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The olden days of K Rd

Property expert Paul Keane reflects on the past of Auckland's infamous K Rd - and lessons that the rest of the country can learn.

I read an article on the weekend in the Weekend Herald of the "developing character on K Rd." For those of you not living in Auckland, K Road ( Karangahape Road) is a traditional Auckland road known more famously as an afterhours entertainment area, most cities have these strips. 

The article made me consider "change" and the impact it can make on an area or a business.

Some 20 years ago or thereabouts, RCG bought a building in East St just off K Rd as we thought we not only should own our own building, but we expected the area to improve and come to life. With that we expected to make some money from the improvement in the capital value etc. A good idea, as we were young and enthusiastic, and why wouldn't the property market improve with businesses taking over those dilapidated buildings in the seedy part, just off K Rd.  The truth was that the area we were in maintained its reputation for afterhours activities and over the course of our ownership, the area never really improved and we subsequently made the decision to sell the building and move to Parnell where the company is currently located. The “change" we expected therefore never eventuated.

It may well be that current development of K Rd could materialise and the area could "change" but my own feeling is that the area will pretty much maintain its traditional reputation so expectations for an upmarket environment may continue to be a long time coming.

I was also intrigued over the adoption by Foodstuffs in the announcement of the "change “they were going to make to the supermarket business by introducing 10 new Fresh Collective stores to the Auckland market. Some of you may recall my comments on this possibility some weeks ago when we discussed the takeover of the former Nosh store in Constellation Drive on Auckland's North Shore. The move didn't surprise me as the demand for small "mini markets" in growth driven residential environments was a no brainer.

What did surprise those of us in RCG however are the similarities between some of Farro’s design componentry and the new Foodstuffs outlets.

RCG has been the designer of Farro since its inception. We are proud to have the relationship with the owners James and Janene Draper and we are also proud of the effective design concept that works for all the Farro outlets. We are constantly reviewing and changing the layout and design to ensure that we stay ahead of the market and up to speed with customer needs. Farro is authentic and as a start-up brand competing against major cooperation’s we believe Farro has shaken the supermarket industry.  As a result, this is driving competition which can only be a good thing for customers and the industry itself.

Although, it seems hard to believe that Foodstuff Operators could convert from a Four Square to a Fresh Collective and compete with Farro; so will they simply be “mutton dressed up as lamb”?  Farro is authentic whereas Fresh Collective as a name and the concept suggests, is a corporate trying to imitate authenticity - this never seems to work, and it didn’t for Nosh.

 Paul Keane is a registered property professional and has vast experience in New Zealand’s commercial property industries. He provides retail and property consultancy including development management to many New Zealand property owners, developers and city councils. This post originally appeared on RCG's blog.