Business confidence in Northland is going up faster than almost anywhere else in the country as the region recovers in the post-Covid world.
And in a sign of just how much confidence there is, a man with an eye for business development is reeling in a bunch of new takeaway franchises in Northland following a boost of local support.
The move comes as a recent survey revealed regional business confidence in Northland has lifted despite troubled economic times due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The latest Westpac McDermott Miller regional economic confidence survey for the September quarter shows regional economic confidence has lifted off its Covid-induced lows.
Regional confidence in Northland jumped 17 points over the September quarter. Only Nelson and Canterbury recorded higher rises in confidence.
However, Northland didn't quite make it into positive territory, with a net 1 per cent of households still expecting the region's economy to worsen over the coming year. Only Bay of Plenty, Taranaki and Nelson have positive confidence expectations.
Company director Logan Gilbert is behind six Snapper Shack franchise businesses selling fresh gourmet takeaways which are due to be opened in Northland by next March.
The first to open is located at the existing Haruru Falls Cafe and Takeaway shop in the Far North which will be rebranded and running as Snapper Shack from October 17.
• Go Local! Websites promote wave of Northland businesses operating under level 3
• Go Local! New survey reveals Northland businesses' shortfalls and concerns
• Northland Inc's Sam Mather: Why culture is heartbeat of your business
• Six of the best Northland businesses win The Pick:19
Logan, who has a passion for business development, said other existing businesses in Tikipunga, Kamo, Otaika, Wellsford and Kerikeri will be rebranded and opened by March.
"From October to December we'll be bedding in Haruru Falls, then we're into it, and when everyone comes back to work next year, and we'll be getting the others up and running.
"I've seen how the locals have embraced the existing business at Haruru through Covid – it's been really amazing."
Logan's daughter Ailza Gilbert and her partner Neil Briscoe took over the popular Haruru takeaway shop three weeks before New Zealand was plunged into level 4 lockdown in March.
It was the couple's first business venture, and though there have been a few "ups and downs" over the last six months, they've generally felt buoyed by local support.
They are looking forward to the opening of the rebranded business later this month.
"It has been the community and all our local regulars who have got us through," Ailza said.
"We've got to know lots of locals which is great."
Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephens said the jump in confidence in the region reflects the resilience in the face Covid of key Northland industries, including agriculture, horticulture and forestry.
"The still low by historical standards overall reading most likely reflects the lack of Auckland-based visitors and the ongoing absence of international tourists in areas such as the Bay of Islands," Stephens said.
The survey was conducted from September 1 to 10.
Logan - who lives in Turangi and has a holiday home in Bland Bay – said he was inspired to open the franchises due partly to his love of recreational fishing in the North.
The Snapper Shack shops will have a focus on fresh gourmet takeaways like fresh snapper in panko bread crumbs, mussel and bacon fritters, smoked fish pate on bagels and raw fish salad. They will retain the current takeaway menu for locals who've become accustomed to that, he said.
Logan said he wanted to provide fresher healthier options to customers and use ingredients that are in season.
"I wanted to bring a whole new range of delicacies to the market at a takeaway price not a restaurant price."
Members of the public are invited to sample the new menu at the Snapper Shack, 9 York St, Haruru on October 17 from 12-3pm.