Napier CBDs surprisingly strong start ups boom, new businesses filling empty spaces

10 December 2021

Hawke’s Bay Today Article

Walking down the streets of Napier’s CBD, you’ll notice surprisingly few empty stores.

Despite the impacts of Covid-19, the city centre is experiencing increased interest from new businesses filling vacant spaces.

Napier City Business Inc general manager Pip Thompson said there were only a handful of vacant shops that were filling fast.

She said Bellwether data trends showed that foot traffic in those areas with retail vacancies was increasing and working its way back to cruise ship statistics back in 2019.

“So if you are entertaining the idea of setting up shop in a fast-growing regional seaside city, now’s a perfect time.”

Thompson estimated nine new businesses had opened in the CBD since Labour Weekend, ranging from retail stores to fun experiential activities, with plenty for the foodies and bar hoppers to enjoy, she said.

Pinot and Picasso, set to open this weekend, is one such business.

Owned by Stephen and Chauntelle Brown, the Napier couple were looking for a “fun, interactive” business to open.

“Covid-19 has been such a downer for people,” Chauntelle said, adding they wanted to bring people back out.

“Our business is new to Hawke’s Bay and offers something different and fun for people to do.”

Having never been to Pinot and Picasso they stumbled on the franchise and loved the concept.

Napier was the perfect base, she said, adding they hoped to eventually expand out to Masterton and Wairoa where they’re from originally.

“We wanted to have our business situated in a busy, central location that was handy to local food and beverage businesses so our customers could have something to eat or drink before and after they come to our studio.”

Currently featuring BYO wine, they hope to partner with local wineries in the near future, she said.

Richard and Kim Glazebrook, from That Sandwich Place, chose Napier for its “vibe”.

“It is well kept and well used. The vibrancy provides a nice positive upbeat feel and we felt like our business could be a good fit.”

They said the timing was about being brave despite the pandemic and believing in themselves and their business.

Ash Hames, sales and leasing broker for Colliers International’s Hawke’s Bay, said vacancies in Napier CBD appeared to be at a level not seen for a while.

“Given everything we’ve been through, it’s certainly unexpected.

“We’ve been doing a lot of leases and there’s a lot of new businesses coming to Napier.”

Many of these were businesses from out of the region, with Hames adding the increased interest was driven by Napier’s economy which was “humming along nicely” and due to recent population growth.

Businesses were looking for the next “growth opportunity” and Napier was certainly on their radar, he said.

Photo/Warren Buckland

Photo Napier CBD/Ruby Bloom Photography