GOLOCAL

Over 1500 people work in businesses throughout the Coastlands shopping centre in Paraparaumu. Like so many businesses in the country, there's been no escape from the effects of Covid-19 . David Haxton caught up with senior centre manager Jan Forrest to see what it has been like for the centre, which has recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.

What has the Covid-19 health crisis impact had on Coastlands?

For Coastlands as it will have been for every business in New Zealand it's been around the uncertainty, not knowing when we can reopen and how that may change.

It's also been the shock of what this has not just done locally but globally.

Advertisement

What have been the main challenges for Coastlands during level 4 and 3?
Most of our stores were unable to open.

Our supermarkets, and Common Sense Organics have really risen to the challenge.

They have had huge pressures from customers, initially the panic buying, and then around people feeling comfortable about how they shop, and of course their own staff needing to feel safe and protected.

The challenge for both Team Medical and Life Pharmacy was around reassuring patients and people with other health issues and reassuring them, and providing a safe environment for everyone to work in.

Under level 3 many of our stores have been able to operate either an online or click and collect format.

This has worked very well and definitely will help as we transition to level 2.

I am sure some people will feel comfortable to come out and shop (ensuring safe distancing and hand washing a priority) and others may wish to take their time and continue shopping from a home environment.

Has there been lots of Zoom meetings and so on for management?
We have stayed in contact with our stores mainly through email and text message, and from a management point of view it's been through Team Talk, Skype, Zoom and then just the plain old telephone.

Advertisement

It's definitely showed us all how easy it is to stay connected and to be able to deal with situations as they arise.

An aerial view of Coastlands.
An aerial view of Coastlands.

How would you describe the way management and tenants have responded to the challenges?

On the whole it's been great, and possibly it comes down to that good old Kiwi attitude of let's get on with it and do what we have to do to get through this.

We have had no real issues at all through lockdown, the centre remained safe and secure.
Once we found out about what we could do under level 3 we had many tenants trying to work out how they could operate and managing that well.

For some stores they simply can't do anything until they can open their doors (ones like Mr Minit) and they have found this frustrating.

Many of our tenants are owner/operators, they are busy people and some hardly take much of a break so seven weeks closed is something they just aren't used to.

What has Coastlands done to help ease the pressure on tenants?
We have remained in contact with all our tenants, responded quickly to queries but we have all been in the same boat. We don't have any inside knowledge about when we can reopen so just keep working through what we need to do to make sure when we can reopen we are ready to go.

We have also promoted which businesses have been operating, changes with hours, and then around the stores operating click and collect through our various social media platforms that we use.

How many tenants come under the Coastlands umbrella?
We have around 120 tenants from speciality retail, large format retail, service businesses and office tenants.

What examples of business' initiatives that have impressed?
It's been the leadership at that essential services here at Coastlands that have worked so well through all of this.

Both Pak'nSave (owner) and Countdown (manager) have been there through the thick of it.
I have seen them leading their staff and supporting their teams.

At Team Medical (who have also been undergoing a refit of their tenancy through all of this) they have had staff who have needed to be there dealing with patients through a lot of uncertainty and to a degree of fear.

They have been marvellous.

Coastlands signage. Photo / David Haxton
Coastlands signage. Photo / David Haxton

As we head to level 2 and below, what are the key focus points for Coastlands?

We need to provide a safe shopping environment to all our customers.

We have been looking at ensuring all cleaning processes are reviewed, and changed as required, there will be hand sanitiser stations in the centre and we will also be working with all our stores around what we need to do around social distancing and informing our customers of what is needed.

Until the Government makes the next two announcements around this (level 2 and reopening), it's been very general.

What do you think of NZME's Go Local! campaign?
It's fantastic, and great that our local paper is driving this.

Collectively there are over 1500 people employed through our various Coastlands stores so we would be the single biggest cluster in Kāpiti.

Local businesses employ local people, who live local, and who support their local community through schools and sports and shopping.

We are all in this together and we all need Kāpiti to come through this together.

What are you most looking forward to in the new normal?
Being able to get my hair cut, go out for dinner at a restaurant (not cooking it myself!) and play golf with my friends.

What is your message to the community?
Kāpiti, you have done so well, we have come through this together. Please continue to stay safe, shop local and let's get through this together.