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Optimism And Resilience - Results Of Our Business Sentiment Survey

Thames Brewery has started a new chapter as The Stables

Our businesses are showing signs of resilience in the face of a challenging year, results from our recent survey show.

The online survey was held during August in partnership with our regional economic development agency, Te Waka.

Just 14 per cent of Coromandel businesses are forecasting that sales for the second half of 2020 will be more than 50 per cent lower than the same time last year. Meanwhile, 65 per cent don’t expect to change the number of full-time employees over the next six months. In fact, 20 per cent of the businesses said they expected to increase full-time employees by up to five people.

“I’m proud of how tenacious our businesses and our people are as they continue to overcome the challenges life throws at them. We are optimistic, adaptable and resilient,” Mayor Sandra says.

“You can see this reflected in the data and how many businesses have moved into developing the digital paradigm and more online offerings of their products and services," she says.

“Confidence is going to be key over the next few months, and we are here to help businesses stay optimistic, particularly in the tourism, primary industries and services sectors.

“Winter is always our quiet season, and we anticipate domestic tourism activity, which makes up a significant share of our market, to pick up heading into summer," Mayor Sandra says.

You'll find more details on the survey results, and how businesses are feeling across Waikato as a whole, in the first section of this update.

Also in this Economic Development Update:

On the weekend we hosted Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters at the Kōpū Station Hotel as we thanked the government for the $8.2 million Provincial Growth Fund grant to build the Kōpū Business and Marine Servicing Precinct. Photos and more information below.

We also catch up with Mike and Ingrid French, who took over the reins at The Stables on Pollen St, Thames, on the new chapter they've started at the Thames Brewery.

Read on for information on:

  • Business sentiment survey results
  • Kōpū Business and Marine Precinct celebrations
  • Local business profile - The Stables
  • People's Choice Business Awards - vote now
  • Planning for the future development of Thames
  • Transport investment workshops
  • Waikato Economic Radar
  • Free business advisor drop-in sessions
  • Where Kiwis Holiday - Coromandel's summer marketing campaign
  • Events update
  • Visitor Information Centre hours

Coromandel businesses show signs of resilience

Business Sentiment survey - results at a glance

Business confidence:

  • When asked on a scale of 1-10 how confident they are about the future success of their business (10 being high confidence, 1 being not confident):
  • 6.1 was the average confidence score


  • 82 per cent recorded same or decreased in sales during March- May 2020, compared to the same time in 2019
  • 50 per cent said their sales were lower by 20 per cent or more
  • 77 per cent forecast same or declining sales July-December 2020 compared to the same time in 2019


  • 28 per cent said they had decreased staff numbers due to COVID. 65 per cent said there had been no change
  • 13 per cent expect to decrease staff numbers moving forward
  • 23 per cent expect to increase staff numbers moving forward
  • 48 per cent believe there is a skills shortage when looking to hire a new employee
  • 4 per cent have continued to adopt remote working post lockdown

Wage subsidy

  • 12 per cent have not accessed the wage subsidy or its extension

Greatest challenges

  • COVID-19
  • Declining market
  • Wage rates/cost of staff
  • Weather-related challenges
  • Recruiting issues

Business planning tools and support:

The graph below shows the business planning tools local businesses (represented in green) currently have in place, and the areas where they require support. Results for businesses from Thames-Coromandel are shown in green while responses from all-of-Waikato businesses are shown in grey.

Survey results (including the above graph), broken down by the district results across the Waikato by district, can be found online here.

Thanks to all the businesses who took the time to complete the survey. Your responses will help us, with Te Waka, to develop support programmes and services that best meet the needs of our business community

In the meantime, the team at Te Waka is available to offer support and advice on navigating this uncertain period. Give them a call on 07 857 0538 or email businessgrowth@tewaka.nz to learn more of the financial support packages and business support services that continue to be available to business.

Business survey reports mixed signals for wider Waikato

On a regional level, the survey of 589 Waikato business owners and managers has found that while overall economic sentiment is pessimistic, Waikato businesses are more optimistic about Waikato and sector performance than they are about the New Zealand economy as a whole.

This optimism is demonstrated by businesses signalling they are actively recruiting new staff, despite an environment of skill shortages and overall sales sitting below 2019 levels. Businesses’ lack of planning for future scenarios, however, is of concern.

Read more in the media release from Te Waka here

Kōpū Business and Marine Precinct celebrations

It was a great turn-out on Saturday for the thank-you to the government for the $8.2 million Provincial Growth Fund grant to build the Kōpū Business and Marine Servicing Precinct.

The function was hosted at the Kōpū Station Hotel and local band Crimson Coast entertained the crowd until Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters arrived on the NZ First bus.

Our Mayor Sandra was master of ceremonies, with Waikato Regional Councillor Stuart Husband and Vaughan Austen from Kōpū Engineering sharing how this project will benefit the wider region and our local businesses alike.

Mayor Sandra with Hon Winston Peters

"This is the first time the governkment has been officially thanked like this for its contribution to a Provincial Growth Fund project, so this is an auspicious occasion for us,” Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says.

Our Council was the first council recipient of PGF funds to hold a thank-you function after a funding announcement has been made.

It's estimated that the Kōpū Marine Precinct could bring economic returns of up to $58.5 million over the next 30 years. It
brings fresh opportunities to the boat repair and maintenance, aquaculture, trade and transport industries.

The $8.2 million funding for Kōpū will go towards planning and construction of an upgraded boat ramp and a floating pontoon that will provide all-tide access for vessels, including large mussel barges and working boats, to enable in-water servicing, keeping local employment in Thames, rather than vessels being serviced outside our district.

Click here for more information on the Kōpū Marine Servicing and Business Precinct.

New chapter at Thames Brewery

You wouldn’t think the winter of 2020 would have been the ideal time to take over a hospitality business – in the midst of an unprecedented global event and lockdowns due to COVID-19 for starters.

Mike and Ingrid French, who took over the reins at The Stables (formerly Frank’s Bar & Bistro) in June, also had to deal with changes in staff and hunt for a new head chef (twice) as well as learn the ropes of brewing craft beer on the side.

But three months on, The Stables is humming with a fresh new offering and optimism from the owners to boot.

“It’s been an exciting time to open a business. In one sense, it can’t get any worse,” Mike says.

They launched straight into the rebrand, with new name ‘The Stables’ reflecting the building’s origins as a horse stable.

Farming memorabilia including saddles and horse gear handed down from Mike’s family is on display, helpng with the move back to the building's roots.

Under a new head chef, there’s an exciting new menu, with table service adding to the dining experience.

“No longer is everything deep-fried,” Mike says. Korean-style pork ribs on Asian greens, lamb shanks on mash, Thai fish curry and gourmet burgers are some of the tasty options available this season.

That’s not to mention great coffee – an area Mike, a barista, is passionate about.

The Stables is currently open for lunch and dinner from 11am-9pm Wednesday to Sunday. The vision is to be open seven-days and extend the hours to offer breakfast too.

A French family selfie from left: Ingrid, Luka and Mike

Word’s certainly getting around about the new direction for this business, with a new sales record reached in late August, despite the COVID-19 level three restrictions keeping the Auckland market away.

Mike’s worked at the Langham Hotel and a range of cafes in Auckland before moving back to his hometown of Thames. He was the duty manager at Frank’s Bar & Bistro when the opportunity arose to buy it this year.

“It was daunting, but it’s been a dream to manage my own business,” he says.

“I love hospitality. I started working in carpentry, but somehow ended up in hospitality. I love the rush when under pressure, making coffees or cocktails, and seeing people go away having had a nice experience,” Mike says.

The couple work side-by-side on the venture. Ingrid, originally from France, has a background in finance and takes care of the business-end of the restaurant and helps with management.

“We are a good team,” Mike says.

The Stables currently makes six craft beers and an off-licence allows people to buy 700ml flagons to take home.

There are plans to keep developing the brewery. That side of the business is new to Mike, who is learning the ropes of brewing from landlord Steve Sowerby who is staying close to hand over his knowledge and experience. Mike plans to be brewing in the early mornings and manage the restaurant during the day.

“I’ve discovered beer is not just beer. There are many different flavours,” Mike says. “It’s an exciting industry to be a part of.”

  • The Stables is at 300 Cochrane St, Thames.
  • Phone: 022 325 0127
  • More information online here

People's Choice Business Award

The Coromandel's More FM Hauraki-Coromandel Business Awards are postponed to next year, but you can still vote for the 'best local business' in the 2020 People’s Choice Award.

Voting opened this week and organisers were pleased to have received 152 nominations.

Voting closes next Monday, 28 September, at midday. Vote now online here and be in to win a $100 Visa Prezzy Card and the winning business will receive $1000 of advertising.

Winners will be announced after 8am on Wednesday 30 September on More FM Breakfast with Michelle and Andy.

Planning for the future development of Thames

Our Council is embarking on a strategic plan - the Thames and Surrounds Spatial Plan - to enable housing and economic growth in the Thames area.

What’s a spatial plan? It gives direction into land use over a decades-long timeframe in order to guide residential, commercial and recreational development.

We’re working on the Thames Spatial Plan now, looking at the area between Thames township and Hikutaia to identify whether the zoning in the District Plan is right or if plan changes are needed.

An important part of the plan is looking at the commercial viability of different areas from a development perspective and whether the infrastructure already exists to support that or if it needs to be upgraded or built.

Our research identified the lack of housing in the district as a constraint on economic growth (see our Productivity Plan for more information). In the Thames area, the demand for housing is strong, but the supply is not there to meet it and there is a lack of new housing development. Smaller, more affordable homes are in particularly strong demand.

Our research shows that there are opportunities for urban development between Thames and Hikutaia, and numerous landowners here are telling us they would like to develop their land, but there is a lack of infrastructure to enable housing development.

A full report on the Thames Spatial Plan is on our website: tcdc.govt.nz/thamesspatialplan

Outcomes will be important to our Council’s upcoming Long-Term Plan 2021-2031, which sets out Council’s financial priorities for the ten-year period.

The desired outcome is for more people to decide that Thames is a desirable place to live with a thriving and diverse population and economy.

Progress so far:

Workshops have been held with key stakeholders, which highlighted the high cost and in some cases, lack of infrastructure along with a clear path on how flooding and inundation will be addressed and how they are inhibiting development.

The project team is now starting to present a list of options ranging from a 'do nothing' through to a 'most ambitious' approach for the management of Thames and surrounding communities in years to come.

At the same time, a high-level assessment of the viability of different land parcels that could be developed to provide scale has been completed. The next steps are refining the options to a shortlist, which Council will assess at its October meeting.

More information:

For more information on the Thames Spatial Plan and the Establishment Report, click here.

Read the Thames-Coromandel Housing Stock-take Report here.

Transport investment workshops

We're also working on a Transport Investment Plan, investigating the opportunities our network presents to stimulate productivity and grow the local economy, creating a more prosperous district.

This project sits within the 'Connected Journeys' workstream of our Council's Productivity Plan, which was first conceptualised in late 2018

Elected members have been briefed, and we have held five additional workshops with key stakeholders around the district and our neighbouring districts, to understand the issues each community and organisation experiences, opportunities for investment in the transport network to stimulate productivity and grow the economy and also the opportunities for collaboration and improved connectivity.

These workshops were:

1. Joint councils and iwi – mayors and chief executives from Hauraki District Council, Matamata-Piako District Council, Thames-Coromandel District Council and the Hauraki Maori Collective Trust Board.

2. Mercury Bay community

3. Whangamata community

4. Thames and Coromandel-Colville communities

5. Key partners – Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency, Department of Conservation, Heritage New Zealand, Fire and Emergency.

The project team is now collating the huge amount of information to evaluate the opportunities and prioritise projects.

A report will be brought to the Council in October.

Economic intelligence - Waikato Economic Radar

Te Waka publishes a range of economic intelligence reports which highlight the key indicators and trends of the Waikato economy, and provide expert insight and opinion. You'll find these online at waikato.com - our region's online portal of information for all things business in the Waikato.

You can view the latest Waikato Economic Radar for September here.

Te Waka economic advisor Blair Keenan has written an article on his reflections on the national accounts for the June 2020 quarter, released with the government's Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update last week. Read the full article from Blair Keenan here

Free business advisor sessions back in the Coromandel

Free business advisor drop-in sessions are held regularly in Thames, Whitianga, Whangamata and Coromandel Town.

Waikato’s regional economic development agency Te Waka, in partnership with our Council, organises for business advisors to visit our district for these free, one-on-one sessions. The advisors take a birds-eye look at your whole business then help you connect with the right resources and experts so you can build capability and thrive.

Advisors can offer assistance in cashflow management and finance, human resources, health and wellness and business continuity planning and any other areas of need. They will refer business owners to helpful resources including where to go for government assistance.

Upcoming sessions are as follows.

  • Thames: (Monthly) First Tuesday afternoon of the month. Next session: 6 October from 12pm to 4pm at our Council’s service centre at 515 Mackay St Thames.
  • Whitianga: (Bimonthly) Second Wednesday morning of the month with the next session on Wednesday, 11 November from 10am to 12pm at our Council’s service centre at 10 Monk St, Whitianga
  • Whangamata: (Bimonthly) Second Wednesday afternoon of the month with the next session on Wednesday, 11 November from from 2:30pm - 4:30pm at our Council’s service centre at 620 Port Rd, Whangamata
  • Coromandel Town: (Bimonthly - alternating with the Whitianga/Whangamata dates above) on the second Wednesday of the month, with the next session on October 14 at our Council's service centre at 355 Kapanga Rd, Coromandel Town (time TBC).

In the meantime, the advisory service is still offered online via ZOOM. To secure a slot, visit www.tewaka.nz or call 07 857 0538 or email businessgrowth@tewaka.nz

'Where Kiwis Holiday' summer campaign is live

The exciting new 'Where Kiwis Holiday' summer campaign from Destination Coromandel has kicked off with billboards in Auckland and digital activity.

It's the first summer campaign for the Coromandel and will remind visitors what they love about summers in The Coromandel, why it's a no-brainer to make plans for this summer, and aims to whet their appetite with activities they may not even know about.

The campaign will run from to the end of February in several phases of activity.

Find out more in the media release from Destination Coromandel here.

Destination Coromandel recommends that businesses work together to create packages and profile these on thecoromandel.com where it's free to list.

Stay up-to-date with our events calendar

The move to Alert Level One this week is good news for event organisers in our district, as restrictions on the number of people gathering for events are now lifted.

We have an events page on our Council website, updated with what's coming up (along with recent postponements or cancellations) here.

Sign up to our weekly events newsletter to stay informed on the calendar of events in our district.

i-SITES and Visitor Information Centres

All our visitor centres are open, with the following hours:

Thames i-SITE: Monday to Friday 9:30am – 3pm. Saturday and Sunday– closed.

Whitianga i-SITE: Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm, Saturday 9am – 4pm. Sunday – closed.

Coromandel Town Visitor Centre: 7 days a week, 10am-3:00pm.

Tairua Information Centre: Monday-Friday 9:30am - 4pm. Saturday 10am-1pm. Sunday – closed.

Pauanui Information Centre: Monday – Saturday 9:30am-4pm. Sunday – 10am-4pm.

Whangamata Information Centre: Monday – closed. Tuesday – Sunday 9am – 2pm.

For more information on our visitor centres and on visiting the Coromandel, go to the website of Destination Coromandel, our regional tourism marketing organisation.

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