Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

Cathedral House open to a new congregation

All the floors of Cathedral House in Wyndham St in Auckland's CBD were once used by a clothing manufacturing business.

Derek Batts, of Auckland apparel business The Derek Corporation, said six floors were needed to operate a showroom, offices, warehouse and factory from 48-52 Wyndham St on the Federal St corner.

"There were 150 people employed," he recalls, telling how the building which was called Derek House supplied New Zealand-made garments to large retail chains such as Farmers, Postie Plus and The Warehouse.

The business even had a discount street outlet, with some garment products sold from what was a cartdock in Wyndham St, a space now occupied by Caffe Greco.

Auckland Council lists the concrete and brick office/warehouse of 562sq m as worth $7.7 million.

But the clothing manufacturing business became tough as cheaper Asian imports arrived, so Batts had garments made in China and other countries.

He now employs just two quality controllers for this side of the business although 50 people work for Derek Corporation which has expanded into the tourist, apparel, souvenirs and household textiles sectors.

In 2000, The Derek Corporation left the building and moved to Avondale's Rosebank Rd where it operates from a 1.4ha site today.

But Batts said a trust he is connected to still owns the building in the city.

The Derek Corporation's imported T-shirts, jackets and knitware are sold in tourist shops throughout New Zealand, all managed from Avondale.

But in the city, a number of tenants, such as architects, marketing advertising and recruitment companies now lease space in Cathedral House between Gen I Tower and the AMI building.

KiwiRail occupied areas on a number of floors but it has now centralised operations at its new headquarters in Parnell. So Batts said space was available on various levels, refurbished ready for leasing.

He worked with Hulena Architects to change the lobby. Photographs taken in 1910 show the building when it was used by Collins Bros Publishers, selling book and stationery items. On upper levels, timber floors and horizontal and vertical steel beams have been exposed, along with brickwork, to bring more character to the interior.

- NZ Herald

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