Reinventing the Duke

Leaving good jobs in London, sinking a big chunk of their capital in a tired Northland waterfront business - were Jayne Shirley and partner Ricki Kinnaird going soft in the head?

Ms Shirley told the awards audience that was certainly the opinion being bandied about when they went into partnership with old friends Anton and Bridget Haag to buy and develop the Duke of Marlborough Hotel on the Russell waterfront in 2010, when she spoke on behalf of the partnership after "The Duke" won the Refining NZ Excellence in Business Large Business Award (25 plus FTE).

"We were home on holiday and went there for a drink and the building subsequently came up for sale. Anton asked us if we were interested in a partnership.

"We could all see the untapped potential and all four of us gave up relatively secure jobs but we don't have a single regret. It's been an incredible journey.

"It's been teamwork all the way and it's an outstanding team to work with," she said after the awards.

Since 2010 the directors have renovated most of the 25-bedroom hotel, so they could build the wedding and corporate trade.

The judges said: "The owners of The Duke demonstrated that they apply good business practice to every area of their business.

"They had their work cut out from the start to plan and action the rebuild of the business to become profitable and respected again in a small Northland community."

- Northern Advocate

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