By Mick Jensen
A major refurbishment and refit project at the Tinwald Tavern complex was just two weeks away from completion when the coronavirus lockdown halted everything.
For business owner Greg King the timing couldn’t have been worse. It means the prospect of an uncertain future for him and staff.
Mr King, who took over running the tavern, bottle store and motels in September 2017, has invested heavily in the tavern refurbishment, which includes a new conference/function centre and a new, relocated restaurant.
Building owner, the Ashburton Licensing Trust, has also invested $1 million plus into roofing and other repair work.
“Just about now we were looking at reopening and unveiling a new-look tavern with a bright future.
“I’ve invested profits back into the business for the refit and the trust has looked after the outside.”
Mr King predicts tough times ahead for his business and many others.
“I’m fortunate having a business here in Mid Canterbury because we have a strong farming economy than can help cushion the blow and support things to some extent, but I just don’t know what the future is going to look like moving forward.”
Mr King said he employed 30 staff at present and had plans to extend that to 35 after the reopening.
He had received the wages subsidy for staff, but that did not cover all costs, he said.
“Ninety-five per cent of employers want to look after their staff, but to do that they need to be able to run a viable business.
“I can’t make a new business plan because I just don’t know what the future holds.”
Mr King said everyone would be hit financially by the lockdown.
Managing losses and trading out of debt was the big task ahead for businesses.
The Tinwald Motels are still open for essential workers, and on “busy” nights six rooms are taken.
The Liquorland outlet at the complex can be reopen when alert level 3 restrictions come in next Tuesday and a contactless, online click and collect system will operate.
Mr King said what can and can’t be done at alert level 2 is still not totally clear, and another uncertainty is the future behaviour of people.
Some will be doing it tough and there could be a number of issues for society to deal with when “normality” resumes.