Tak Mutu was in for a poisonous surprise when his shop ceiling leaked during the April 29 floods.

He "randomly popped in" to his Mountain Bike Rotorua store on Hinemoa St that Sunday, just after water seeped through the roof and pushed down part of the ceiling.

"They were demolishing the building behind us and there were contractors there including one of our mates. So I said 'can you please come and give us a quick quote for the ceiling' and he looked up and he goes 'I think that's asbestos'."

Tak Mutu and his flood-damaged ceiling in the Hinemoa St Mountain Bike Rotorua Store. Photo / Stephen Parker
Tak Mutu and his flood-damaged ceiling in the Hinemoa St Mountain Bike Rotorua Store. Photo / Stephen Parker

He immediately closed the shop as a precautionary measure.

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The landlord took asbestos testers through the building which confirmed the grim suspicions.

"We could not operate so we have not been able to open our retail shop since April which is a big deal."

Tak said his business losses were in the "tens of thousands".

"We have managed to keep all our same staff employed. So we have just beefed up our other shops [Redwoods, Waipa, and Skyline] and had extra staff out there, but we have not been able to trade in town.

"It has been a pretty big hit on our revenue because this town shop is pretty good for us, so that has been a bit of a pain."

Tak said his landlord had been "really cool, really awesome" and "trying really hard to get things moving".

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"They are looking at six months realistically before being able to get all the work done. We cannot wait that long for the job to be done so we have committed to another site."

He said the extent of the damage was totally unexpected.

"When you are dealing with commercial buildings it is not a $10,000 fix, it is a $100,000 or $200,000 so I really feel for them in this instance.

"The shop that we are moving to has an office up the stairs which hasn't been tenanted since 2002, so if there is a positive from this it is that we are filling a space that has not been tenanted for a long time."

Tak and his brother Tu opened the Hinemoa St shop six years ago.

"In the Daily Post I said 'people need to be reinvesting in town' and Tu and I looked at each other and I said 'I just said that didn't I?' He said 'yeah we better put our money where our mouths are'.

"Within a couple of months, we had opened up a shop in town as part of revitalising it because at the time we had like 120 vacant shops or 130."

Tak said at first the shop was really slow but in the last couple of years it had been "a really good base".

"We get a lot of backpackers and people staying in hotels who do not have transport out to the forest, and then come to rent bikes and get clothes."

He said the new premises, at 1213 Fenton St, opposite the Rotorua Police Station, did not have facilities to have a coffee bar like the old shop in Hinemoa St.

"I know our regular coffee people are a bit bummed."

The store will open from Monday with large discounts on clothing to welcome back customers.

The new lease was signed just last week.

"The hard thing was finding a place that would give us both office space for up to 14 staff that we have in summer and the retail space as well. This was the only site that could do that straight away."

Fortunately for the Mutus, their main business is luxury tourism, and they have other projects on the go including a craft beer bar due to open at Waipa this summer.

"I mean regarding the flooding the reality for is it was just a loss of business for a while. We have got friends who lost their whole houses during it so we have not made a song and dance about it," Tak said.

"We just really feel for everyone who has been affected. I can only imagine what places like Edgecumbe must have felt like a year ago if this is how we are going."