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The Quest to become New Zealand's Most Commercially Resilient Town

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Gore's town centre leaders and stakeholders work collaboratively to develop resilience and growth for CBD businesses. First Retail Group working in partnership with Gore District Council

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The Quest to become New Zealand's Most Commercially Resilient Town

  1. 1. 38 39 BUSINESS & INNOVATIONBUSINESS & INNOVATION Home to about 13,000 residents, Gore is the quintessential New Zealand town, long treasured for its range of shops, cafes and businesses that service thousands more from the surrounding rural district. Its CBD has always been a favoured destination for farming families to socialise, use services and re-stock provisions. Although Gore hasn’t been affected as much as other areas by changing consumer spending patterns, the closure of some stores was enough to sound warning bells across its business community. This was picked up by Gore’s progressive council as a time for action. What followed has been a unique solution that has re-engaged both the retail community and consumers. In 2015 Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks met with Gore’s CBD community to identify their common goals. Before long a joint business and council initiative was launched under the GoRetail banner. Working with town centre revitalisation specialists First Retail Group, stakeholders developed a comprehensive programme of discovery and action aimed at the CBD actively ‘meeting its market.’ First Retail’s Lorraine Nicholson believes rapid changes in the retail landscape have dramatically altered consumers’ wants and needs in recent years. “Gore is listening to its residents, visitors and the local business community in making sure the town centre meets expectations in terms of range and offer,” she said. Understanding these expectations, sharing Gore’s goals and seeking feedback has been a joint effort between retailers, the council and the local media. Hokonui Radio host Luke Howden has backed the initiative from the start. Through his breakfast show and social media pages, he has been actively ‘taking the pulse’ of the community and feeding ideas back to businesses. “Listeners have been quick to share what they like and what they want to see more of. It’s certainly something that’s captivated our whole community,” he said. Feedback uncovered the need for retailers to widen stock ranges, look to new categories and develop consistency in opening hours. “Matching expectations around opening hours in smaller towns is always a challenge. While shoppers expect Changes to consumer spending patterns, brought about through online shopping, busier lifestyles and a tightening economy have impacted many towns and cities across New Zealand. In order to combat the trend before it took its toll on their own doorstep, Gore’s business community grouped together and developed a strategy to protect their treasured township. WORDS SONIA GERKEN - GORE DISTRICT COUNCIL trends, independent businesses in Gore have decided Sundays are best as a day for family, friends and sport so they have elected to remain closed, except during key seasons such as the lead-up to Christmas.” Despite being closed Sundays, business owners agreed local retailers should still be able to trade online, with customers assured they can collect their purchases the very next day or have them delivered. This is where the GoRetail digital strategy comes into play. For some years now many businesses in the town have been punching above their weight in e-commerce. Every day orders from retailers wing their way across the globe making Gore one of New Zealand’s flagships for online trading. As part of the new digital strategy, the goal is to help other store owners reach beyond their traditional boundaries and achieve the same online success. One businesswoman experiencing that success is Joanne Hall from Donald Buckley Photographics. As part of a sector that has changes year to year, she is kept busy transforming her business areas and ranges to reflect consumer demand. Along with her store on Gore’s Main Street, Joanne has embarked on a comprehensive online strategy to grow awareness of spending attrition. “We realised there was a lot of our type of work being sent out of town, and other businesses were in the same boat. What was needed was a website that brought together Gore’s wider retail offer – highlighting the products and services that are available in our town,” Joanne said. Ergo, Gore’s collective e-commerce portal – a platform to showcase what Gore has on offer. Along with the online strategy, the GoRetail group has developed a mentorship programme that helps retailers leverage all aspects of their businesses to build retail capability and performance. While still in its early stages, the initiative has already been seeing results and has ultimately created a stronger, more collaborative business community striving toward the same goal. “Our vision is to make Gore New Zealand’s most commercially resilient provincial town, and with GoRetail I think we are definitely on the right track,” Mayor Hicks said.  “Gore is listening to its residents, visitors and the local business community in making sure the town centre meets expectations in terms of range and offer” businesses to be open extended hours, it’s simply not possible but there are solutions,” Lorraine said. Across New Zealand retailers have been rationalising opening hours, with Sundays a key focus. Mayor Hicks said the local solution to this has seen a collaborative approach from retailers that retains Gore’s lifestyle and values while meeting the needs of its community. “Based on business feedback and retailgo 84 Main St, Gore 9710 Call us! 03 208 9165   