F&P to expand in mall

Dave Cull.
Dave Cull.
A multimillion-dollar redevelopment of Dunedin's Wall Street shopping mall will create space for about 65 extra staff within Fisher and Paykel Appliances' design centre in the city, it has been confirmed.

The deal, announced by Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull yesterday, would see the Dunedin City Council investing $2.3 million in the mall's redevelopment, matched by a similar amount from Fisher and Paykel Appliances.

The work was expected to begin next month and be completed next year, allowing the expansion of the design centre offices into the Penrose building next door, in which the council has a 49% stake.

The redevelopment would also go up, with new office space replacing 18 car parking spaces in part of the Wall Street car park, above the existing F&P design centre, Mr Cull said.

The council's investment would be paid for by the sale of ''underperforming'' council properties, which were yet to be identified, and would not be debt-funded, Mr Cull said.

The details were announced days after city councillors signed off on the deal during a marathon nine-hour meeting last week.

Mr Cull praised the deal, saying it was a chance to ''leverage'' council-owned assets to help the city turn an economic corner.

''It means a tremendous amount, and it feels a bit like we're turning a corner on the retention - and in fact the creation - of high-quality jobs.''

The development of high-tech, highly-skilled jobs was also a key aim of the city's economic development strategy, and was ''doubly pleasing'' given the recent history of job losses in the city, he said.

''They're not just jobs. They're exactly the kind of jobs, creating high-quality, high-value IP [intellectual property], that we recognise we need to create in this city.

''When you put 40-50 extra jobs into a place which are high-quality, highly-paid jobs, the knock-on economic effect is considerable.''

F&P Dunedin site manager Richard Butler said the expansion would put an end to cramped conditions for existing staff and allow the ''well-performing'' centre to grow.

''For Dunedin, it's very significant because it means we're staying here and we're growing what we've got in Dunedin.''

It was also another sign of confidence in the business from F&P's Chinese owner, whiteware giant Haier, which has ''made it clear they consider us a world-class facility'', Mr Butler said.

The redevelopment comes after F&P last year announced plans to take on 100 research and development staff for its Dunedin and Auckland operations, as well as creating more jobs in other parts of the company.

Since then, the number of staff based in Dunedin had grown to about 165 - 135 in the design centre and 30 call centre staff - as part of the company's five-year growth plan, launched last year, Mr Butler said.

The redevelopment would allow F&P's Dunedin personnel to grow to 230 in total, with most of the 65 extra staff to be recruited within the next four years.

It would also provide some room for future growth beyond the five-year plan. The expansion would allow F&P to expand what it already did, including design work on other Haier products beyond the F&P brand, Mr Butler said.

Many of the highly skilled jobs in Dunedin would be taken by people recruited from outside the city. The expansion would result in the existing office space within Wall Street being increased by about 1100sq m, from 3200sq m, as well as adding another 550sq m upstairs in the mall's car park.

Mr Cull said the council's share of the investment included the cost of relocating existing tenants within the Penrose building.

F&P's existing lease to occupy Wall Street had also been extended by four years to 2023. The deal was also, in part, the result of a Dunedin delegation's visit to China last year - led by Mr Cull - which included a visit to Haier's headquarters in Qingdao, Mr Cull said.

''We talked to them about the excellence of this facility and encouraged them to expand jobs here, rather than some other places. They've listened to us because they've recognised what a wonderful job these guys have done over the last few years.''

The redevelopment would bring more people into the central city, pump up to $11 million a year into the local economy and help create an additional 43 downstream jobs, an economic impact report predicted.



The deal

• DCC to invest $2.3m; similar amount from Fisher and Paykel Appliances.

• Funds expansion of F&P Dunedin design centre offices into Penrose building; upstairs into Wall Street car park.

• Creates space for 65 extra F&P staff; most recruited within next four years.

• Central-city stimulus estimated to be worth $11m a year for Dunedin economy.


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