Blenheim Dive Centre owner Bryan Bailey. Photo: Matt Brown.

Tills ting to tune of $8million

Blenheim bargain hunters spent a whopping eight million dollars in just one weekend, cashing in on annual mega sales.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday proved a popular draw as consumers made the most of marked down prices.

Figures from Eftpos payment provider Paymark show spending across the country rose by more than 40 per cent compared to a weekend without the widespread sales.

And the shopping holiday appears to be catching on in the region, with spending up 10 per cent on last year’s discount deals.

No. 4 Boutique manager Cheri Baker. Photo: Matt Brown.
No. 4 Boutique manager Cheri Baker. Photo: Matt Brown.

No. 4 Boutique manager Cheri Baker says the eagerly awaited shopping event saw foot traffic in the town centre soar.

“It was definitely busier than any other weekend,” she says.

“It’s great for customers that want to get in and do some early pre-Christmas shopping.”

Cheri says new developments on the outskirts of town haven’t affected their business.

“We’ve just shifted and the foot traffic on Market Street was very busy.

“The fashion hub for Blenheim is Market Street, developments out of town don’t affect us.

“It’s nice to keep that niche in the town centre,” Cheri says.

Paymark spokesman Paul Brislen says Kiwi’s were simply keen to shop.

“Besides strong sales-driven Black Friday activity in shops, there were also strong increases in spending through supermarkets, hairdressers and internet service providers,” he says.

But Blenheim Dive Centre owner Bryan Bailey says the effect of the Black Friday frenzy on his business is “tricky” to gauge.

“We’re a destination shop and it’s our busy season anyway,” he says.

“I think some people may have used it as a tool for pre-Christmas shopping, but it’s our busiest time in terms of retail.

Paul says the last seven days before Christmas are traditionally the busiest shopping days of the year – busier than Black Friday and Boxing Day.

“There are likely to be three very busy shopping days this year, based on the pattern of 2013 when Christmas Day was last on a Wednesday, with possibly Christmas Eve pipping the Friday and Monday before as the busiest day.

Villa Maria Estate are recalling a 2018 batch of sparkling rosé. Photo: Supplied.

Fizz loses sparkle amid safety recall

Glass damage to a 2018 batch of Villa Maria wine has seen bottles of the popular festive fizz recalled for safety reasons.

Company bosses at Villa Maria Estate are recalling a 2018 batch of sparkling rosé after glass damage on the lip of the bottles.

While the damage is thought to be limited to just some bottles, the entire batch is being recalled.

Villa Maria CEO Justin Liddell says no other products have been impacted.

“Although this issue only impacts a very small proportion of the unique bottles we use for our Villa Maria New Zealand Lightly Sparkling rosé 2018, customer safety and wellbeing are paramount so we are recalling the entire batch,” he says.

The damage has been discovered under the screw cap on some bottles of the 750mL Villa Maria New Zealand Lightly Sparkling 2018 rosé product.

The damage is on rosé batch number: VM101L9238.

“If you have purchased a 750mL bottle of Villa Maria New Zealand Lightly Sparkling 2018 Rosé since August 2019 we ask that you please refrain from opening the bottle and return the product to the retailer for a full refund,” Villa Maria says in a statement.

“You can locate the batch number at the bottom of the bottle which has been stamped onto the glass.”

“Villa Maria’s reputation as New Zealand’s most awarded winery is founded on the highest quality standards from the vines to the bottle,” says Justin.

The product was available from supermarket chains, various liquor outlets, Villa Maria Cellar Doors in Marlborough, Auckland and the Hawke’s Bay.

The wine was also sold at the Villa Maria wine sale which took place at the Auckland and Hawke’s Bay cellar doors. A small quantity was sent to Tonga and Fiji.

Villa Maria said they expect to launch our 2019 vintage of Villa Maria New Zealand Lightly Sparkling rosé early in December, and apologised for any inconvenience to consumers in the meantime.

For more information on the recall the public can contact the Villa Maria Customer Service team directly on 0800 900 013 or [email protected]

St Marks Foundation chairman Charles Murdoch. Photo: Supplied.

Plea for help from St Marks rehab

The only residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre in the top of the south is facing increasing financial pressure.

St Marks Addiction Residential Treatment Centre in Blenheim is facing increasing pressure on resources as demand for help escalates.

Centre bosses hope a new financially savvy trustee will help boost fundraising efforts and find urgent new revenue streams.

St Marks Foundation bosses say they need more community-minded people to “put up their hand” to take on the challenge.

Outgoing chairman and founding trustee Brian Moore says demand for treatment is “greater” than the facility can currently offer.

“It’s one of those things that society would like to brush under the carpet but it’s there and we do what we can.

“In lots of respects, it’s a pretty thankless role – but we do get amazing results and that’s what it’s about.

“When they’re at rock bottom, we’re there to pick up the pieces; we’re the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.” he says.

The 16-bed centre needs a new residential block for women, but money is tight.

Operational costs are covered by Nelson Marlborough District Health Board.

Brian says the centre is getting more court referrals as well, putting the centre under even more strain.

“The courts have recognised the service that St Marks offers and is referring drug and alcohol related cases to us.

“They have a fund to support some of that work, but as for buildings … we’re continually looking for new facilities.

“We get serious funding from the Rata Foundation, which is helpful, but the bulk of it we have to fundraise for ourselves.

“That’s the main role of a trustee – finding new funding streams or being able to fund it themselves,” he says.

Originally set up as a drop-in centre, people come from as far away as Invercargill for treatment.

New trustees are needed to make sure as many people as possible get the help they need says new chairman Charles Murdoch.

“A willingness to help people, that’s got to be the important thing.

“It would be good to have interested people to put their hand up and help.

“In many ways, the foundation is still in its infancy. We’re now at the stage to get into the community to raise a pot of gold.

“Someone who’s well known in the community – someone who is known to always help.

“We’re looking to increase the number of trustees, potentially up to ten.

“It would be beneficial and helpful to have a few more, to spread the load a little more,” he says.

Chief customer officer Andre Gargiulo says the aim is to make the best mussel powder “in the world.” Photo: Supplied.

Seafood firm flexes mussels with multimillion-dollar venture

A seafood company has announced plans to invest $20 million dollars in a new Greenshell Mussels extract centre in Blenheim.

Sanford Ltd bosses revealed last week they would build a new Marine Extracts centre to boost their mussel powder power.

The move will create more jobs in the area and plans are already been drawn up for the centre which is set to open early in 2021.

It will focus on the discovery and production of high value nutrition products from New Zealand seafood.

Sanford already makes Greenshell mussel powder from a small facility in Blenheim and its success has convinced the company to go several steps further.

Chief customer officer Andre Gargiulo says the aim is to make the best mussel powder “in the world.”

Greenshell mussel powder. Photo: Supplied.
Greenshell mussel powder. Photo: Supplied.

“We want to make the best mussel powder in the world and more. The demand for marine extracts is huge and it’s only going to grow,” he says.

Greenshell mussel powder can help athletes combat inflammation issues and staff plan to start moving into the benefits of mussel oil.

“The plan is to move into mussel oil and look at extracts from marine species other than mussels.

“There is so much to unlock and we are incredibly excited about the potential,” says Andre.

More than 40 people will be employed in a wide range of roles from scientific research through to production.

Sanford’s current extracts business general manager of innovation, Andrew Stanley says Blenheim the “perfect” place for the new hub.

“It’s a great location. We already have all the natural ingredients just down the road growing in the Marlborough Sounds so it was an ideal location for us to choose.

“Blenheim is also an attractive place to live and that’s a very good thing given the number of highly talented people we will need to attract.

“The lifestyle here is amazing. I recently moved here from Auckland myself and I can vouch for the combination of open spaces, wine country and being near the sea,” he says.

Andrew says science at the new centre will be world leading.

“This is a fantastic new chapter and we’re stoked to be able to share it with the world.”

Biddy Kate's owner Terry Sloan. Photo: Matt Brown.

CBD apartment complaint quashed

A bar owner who feared a proposed apartment development would mean noise complaints has lost his bid to stop the plan going head.

Hotel owner Terry Sloan, whose pub, Biddy Kate’s, sits directly opposite the site of the proposed apartments, was worried future tenants would find it too noisy.

But a decision by a council-appointed commissioner found the pub, which includes an upstairs backpackers, was unlikely to be the target of noise gripes.

He highlighted that the pub was already able to operate with “noise sensitive activity” – its own visitor accommodation.

In his official decision, commissioner Julian Ironside says the decision rested on whether Biddy Kate’s would suffer unreasonable constraints from residential use of the Porse building.

“I recognise that permanent residents may have or develop different expectations in terms of a night-time noise environment,” Julian says.

“However, I do not consider that the establishment of residential activity in the Porse building is contrary to the expectations for the Central Business Zone or is incompatible with the business activities undertaken on the Criterion Hotel site.

“The issue of night-time noise is in my view adequately addressed by the refurbishment details for the proposed apartments.”

The apartments ranging in floor area from 62 square metres to 110 square metres, have been in the pipeline for building owners TH Barnes & Co since late last year.

Consents show vacant shop frontage on the street could be converted to a car parking garage and storage for each of the units.

The car parking garage entrance would require the loading zone on the street to be moved or removed.

Originally built for the Inland Revenue Department in 1987, the government agency downsized and quit the region shortly after completion.

Since then, the building has been largely vacant.

Council documents show TH Barnes & Co engaged a lawyer to draft a ‘Noise and Nuisance’ agreement that could be signed by both parties ahead of the development.

The documents were not signed by Terry, it says.

Plans for the apartment include double glazed windows to minimise sound intrusion and an acoustic engineer’s report found the apartments comply with the noise rule for residential activity within the CBD.

Puro cultivation director Tom Forrest believes Marlborough’s microclimate makes it ideal for growing medical cannabis. Photo: Supplied.

Marijuana moguls top half a million dollar mark

A bid to turn Marlborough into New Zealand’s largest medical cannabis producer has topped half a million dollars in just a few days.

Puro launched a fundraising campaign on Wednesday, selling shares in the fledgling company for $1each.

Less than four days later 168 people had pledged $610, 293.

Company bosses say the business is on track to become the first company to grow medical cannabis and hemp in Marlborough.

Puro director Sank Macfarlane says the company intended to grow medicinal cannabis in greenhouses in the Waihopai Valley and high-CBD (cannabidiol) hemp in Kekerengu, on the coast between Blenheim and Kaikōura.

“The feedback we’ve had so far has been incredibly positive – there’s a real mood out there that it’s medical cannabis’ time.

“But we’re not there yet – while we’ve raised enough capital to get started, we need more investment if we’re going to achieve what we’ve set out to do,” he  says.

Puro is looking to raise $2 to $4 million through crowdfunding and an additional $2 million through wholesale investors.

A minimum of $500 dollars is being asked for by investors.

The unique microclimates are ideal for growing high end cannabis says the company’s cultivation director Tom Forrest.

“Marlborough is ideal for growing cannabis on a large commercial scale.

“We believe the local climate, summer daylight hours, intensity and quality of light spectrum will provide a perfect location for healthy, high potency, flavourful cannabis.

“Combined with the existing farming expertise from the wine sector and local agricultural resources, Marlborough will make as fantastic location for commercial cannabis cultivation,” he says.

Puro secured a licence from the Ministry of Health for medicinal cannabis at the Waihopai Valley site.

The licence would be for research purposes only until the medical cannabis scheme is rubber-stamped.

The Ministry of Health will need Cabinet approval on the regulatory proposals which could see the proposed Medicinal Cannabis Scheme up and running by April next year.

“Cannabis is one of the oldest used medicines in history, says Thomas.

“Written evidence dates back thousands of years showing proven medical efficacy and usage for a vast range of serious ailments, alongside safe recreational use in many different cultures worldwide.

“Legal cannabis provides a valuable commodity for farmers and wide range of economic opportunities.

“Legalisation helps with socioeconomic challenges and is shown to decrease societal harms from hard drug use.”

Appointed liquidator Brenton Hunt revealed creditors were unlikely to see any money back from defunct building company Rose Built Homes. Photo: Matt Brown.

Rose Built Homes used as ‘cash cow’

The bungling former owners of a defunct building firm may face criminal charges for fraud.

Rose Built Homes, which folded in September, has left Marlborough businesses out of pocket to the tune of $1.6 million.

Appointed liquidator Brenton Hunt revealed creditors were unlikely to see any money back, branding the case “one of the worst” he has seen in 25-years.

Treating the company as a “personal cash cow” could see former directors Ryan Butler and Kyle Payne in court, he says.

And the former directors have turned on each other, with Kyle blaming some of their dodgy dealings on his colleagues “gambling problems”.

The revelation comes amid rumours that Kyle has fled the country.

Brenton says he can’t stop Kyle from leaving the country.

“I can’t stop him travelling until I actually have judgement against him, and even then, a border alert would require details of his actual flight,” he says.

“Regardless…he can still be bankrupted here in New Zealand.”

Local contractors and businesses have been left high and dry, with one secured creditor owed more than $500,000.

Investigations uncovered a raft of costly personal purchases bought using company funds.

Boats, motorcycles and cars bought on finance were being paid from company accounts but registered to the young company directors.

But Brenton says he doubts any money will be paid out to any class of creditor.

“There were very few assets to be collected. Some office equipment and limited tools were collected from the office.

“The majority of these were returned to Christchurch and sold by Mainland Auctions, limited amount were sold to interested parties in Blenheim.”

“A number of creditors have raised jet skis as another asset, but I have never managed to locate any,” he says.

In addition, Kyle Payne traded a company asset, a Ford Mustang, on an Audi he recorded as his personally.

“The Audi still has a significant amount of finance over and above the trade-in value.”

Tax payments are “well behind” with no annual accounts ever produced.

Brenton says Kyle tried to blame the lack of tax payments on the company’s accountant, however, it is the director’s responsibility to file returns.

PAYE had not been paid since December 2018.

Kyle, in an interview with the liquidator, says he was not aware that non-payment of PAYE was a criminal offence.

“A huge amount of personal expenditure was coded in the company records as business expenditure and GST attempted to be claimed,” Brenton says.

“I have been working in insolvency for ten years, and as an accountant for over twenty-five years.

“Rarely have I seen company records in such a bad state.

“It has been very hard to work out anything form the records kept so I have had to go back to bank transactions.

GST had not been filed since March 2019 or paid since May 2018.

Brenton says Kyle had appeared to have committed “several items” of fraud and a creditor has offered to assist in filing a criminal complaint to police for fraud.

“Insurance records have been altered to allow customers to make drawdowns, customers have been asked to pay into bank accounts which are not company bank accounts and various customers and creditors have been lied to repeatedly,” he says.

“After recoding a lot of the expenditure which Kyle Payne had recorded as business expenditure but was paid to his own bank accounts, I have made a demand for $335,739.

“I have had no response to this demand so are now commencing judgement against him for this debt.”

Kyle sold his house, on Howick Rd, in September.

Brenton says Ryan was cooperative during the liquidation.

“He is apologetic for where everything has ended up and claims he never knew just how bad everything was.

“Regardless of his regrets he was a director and personally guaranteed several of the debts.”

Brenton says Ryan is looking into bankruptcy.

“As there has been very limited recovery from the company, I am funding a lot of the continued work for the liquidation myself.

He says the only asset of the company is the money which the directors had withdrawn in various ways.

“The likelihood of recovery of this for creditors is fairly remote so it is not anticipated any distribution for any class of creditor will happen.

“Regardless of this I will continue with my action against the director and see what comes out of it.”

Renwick Roadhouse Café and Bar owners Kristine and David Hudson say losing carparks on the main road through Renwick could sink their business. Photo: Matt Brown.

Battle lines drawn over parking plans

Angry Renwick business owners fear they could be left counting the cost of plans to replace parking spots with planter boxes.

A Marlborough District Council initiative to put concrete planter boxes on Renwick’s main street has local businesses up in arms.

At a charged meeting between several Renwick business owners and council staff on Wednesday, business leaders voiced fierce opposition to the idea.

The meeting followed a flyer drop by council staff detailing the plans to local businesses, but owners say they feel “ambushed”.

Initial plans saw the busy thoroughfare losing more about 14 car parks, but a revised option was presented to the nine Renwick business owners at the meeting, at the Renwick Roadhouse Café, where about four parks would be removed.

Renwick Roadhouse Café and Bar owners Kristine and David Hudson say losing a single 10-minute carpark from the street could cost their business upward of $20,000 a year.

“The business is our livelihood,” Kristine says.

“We’ve been here nearly nine months and we only heard about it the other day.”

“The issue is, we need more carparks, not less.

“Boaties on the way to the Sounds – if they can’t get a park, they keep driving,” Kristine says.

Council bosses says the idea was to help cut speeding through the town.

Metal planters were placed along the busy street in the past year but were removed due to vehicles crashing into them.

Marlborough District Council community advisor – Marlborough townships Adi James says the plans were revealed at a Smart and Connected gathering about a month ago.

But the initial idea was first put forward a few years ago.

Originally, Adi says plans were to line the street with large trees, however, that plan “stalled”, she says.

The latest proposal would help save money by “piggy backing” on current works fixing pipes along High Street.

Kristine says business owners are “sick” of the ongoing work along the streets.

She says the roadworks are costing her about $2000 per week in lost sales.

Adi says there is still the option to not go ahead with the project, but it is an “opportunity worth exploring”.

“There were some benefits with piggybacking,” she says.

Liquid Action owner Matt Broughan says the changes could potentially cost his business up to $50,000 a year in lost sales.

“It’s got a huge effect on local businesses,” Matt says.

“We’re all a bit blown away with it.

“To rush it through to save $100,000 – it could cost us much more.”

Matt says once the concrete planters are in, there’s no going back.

“We need the car parks desperately.”

Matt says he loves working in

Renwick and being a part of the community, but the consultation process surrounding the
proposed plans in Renwick was lacking input.

His “bottom-line” at the meeting was “no loss of car parks”.

“I’ve had a kick up the arse,” he says.

“I should have listened, but I’m prepared to put a positive effort in.”

Wine Station manager Michelle Osgood is looking for food truck chefs. Photo: Matt Brown.

An appetite for food truck comp

A Blenheim business owner is looking for food truck chefs to pit their wits and cooking talents against others.

The Wine Station in Blenheim will host an inaugural battle of food trucks in a bid to find the best food truck in the Top of the South.

Station manager Michelle Osgood says the event will also take advantage of 2020’s ‘extra Saturday’, falling on February 29.

She has been mulling over the ‘The Food Truck Off; Battle of the Whangamoas’ for around six months.

“We have had a lot of food truck events in the last two years, since we have been open, and we just wanted something that would sort of bring some different people to town,” she says.

“We also just wanted to get people together and have a street event, and that was the only way to do it.”

Open to food trucks based in Marlborough and Nelson, Michelle is hoping to attract around 20 to 30 operators.

A trophy is being made and donated by Havelock copper artist Tony Matthews, and attendees will be invited to vote for their favourite food truck.

“The idea is that maybe it will become a four-yearly event,” Michelle says.

It is also hoped that the event will attract more people to the region.

“I sort of envision that the food trucks will also get their followers to come along; the more of your own followers you have got, the more votes you’re going to get.”

Entry to the event will cost $10, with funds raised going to the Blenheim Rotary Club.

Running from 12pm and 7pm, it is hoped the event will appeal to both lunch and dinner time crowds, Michelle says.

“It’s really cool. I’m pretty excited, and I’m overwhelmed at how excited other people are,” Michelle says.

“It’s an extra Saturday that no one knew they had.”

Those interested in entering The Food Truck Off could contact Michelle directly via The Wine Station’s Facebook page, or via email; [email protected]

Clarke and Haack Construction co-owner Ant Clarke. Photo: Supplied.

Honour for construction leader

Helping tackle Marlborough’s accommodation crisis has seen a Blenheim businessman take out a top industry honour.

Clarke and Haack Construction are the driving force behind the idea, development and build of St Andrews Seasonal Worker accommodation complex in Blenheim.

Co-owner Ant Clarke was named Building Professional of the Year at the fifth annual Southern Excellence Awards in Christchurch on Friday night.

Judges say his accomplishment was a “significant achievement” with positive implications for the rest of the country.

“Ant’s vision to purpose-build RSE accommodation, his forward-thinking implementation, leadership and meticulous management has benefitted the wider Marlborough community and the property and construction industry.

“Ant has also become further involved in helping to address Marlborough’s social housing needs through work with the Ministry for Social Housing and Urban Development.”