High George St rent 'killed business'

Black Rabbit Bakery owner Shane Ross stands outside his artisan bakery, in George St, before he...
Black Rabbit Bakery owner Shane Ross stands outside his artisan bakery, in George St, before he leaves on its final day on Saturday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
A well-travelled artisan baker says it is too hard to make a crust in Dunedin, so he closed his shop on Saturday, making four staff redundant.

Black Rabbit Bakery owner Shane Ross said he opened his European-themed artisan bakery in George St in November last year but was now considering trying his luck in Africa.

He decided to close the bakery because the $90,000 annual rent, excluding GST, was too high and the customer base in Dunedin was too small.

''It's just not sustainable.''

He had opened bakeries in other New Zealand cities, including Wellington and Timaru, and budgeted between 10% and 12% of his business costs to cover rent.

In Dunedin, he had to budget 25% to cover rent.

Since his shop opened in November, he knew of 11 shops in the George St area closing, and ''that's not good''.

The bakery had employed three fulltime staff and one part-time staff member.

Dunedin was a difficult place to run a business, because most students and many residents ''evacuated'' the city during the Christmas holidays, he said.

Most tourists visiting Dunedin were cruise ship passengers and they usually ate on board and spent little on food in the city, he said.

He kept his prices down to remain competitive but too many food businesses in the area were competing for too few customers.

He doubted the bakery would have been more prosperous if he had opened in a nearby mall.

If he had to start again in the city, he would open in South Dunedin, where rents were cheaper, he said.

After the shop doors closed on Saturday afternoon, he planned to take a few weeks off to ''clear his head'' but would definitely move out of Dunedin.

Mr Ross said he was contemplating taking up a job offer of setting up bakeries in Zimbabwe.

-shawn.mcavinue@odt.co.nz

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