Earthquake jolts Indian businesses

A number of Christchurch based Indian businesses are suffering the adverse effects of the February 22 Earthquake with substantial losses to their properties, equipment and stocks.

But even as they reel under the loss, they are resilient and hopeful of recovery sooner than later.

Service Foods Limited Chairman and Managing Director Stan Balar said the initial estimate of loss to his property and equipment was about $3 million but believes that the actual loss may be at least $5 million.

He said Asian Food Warehouse, the Group’s largest retail store on Manchester Street was destroyed.

“This has to be rebuilt from scratch and the total loss including stocks would be not less than $4 million,” he said.

The Service Foods warehouse facility in Woolston, one of the largest in the country, has also been hit. The old part of the warehouse has suffered damages and would need to be rebuilt, he said.

“We are however confident of coming back stronger, bigger and better. My concern is to ensure that there are no job losses and our customers are served with the same level of efficiency as before. Our newly opened warehouse in Auckland is of great help,” Mr Balar said.

Apart from the warehouses, the Balar Group has also suffered substantial losses to its properties in the Christchurch Central Business District.

Steve D’Souza, Chairman & Managing Director of the Kalamazoo Group, which owns Wyatt & Wilson in Heathcote was also upbeat, saying that despite the complete loss of machinery and damage to the building, the printing plant will emerge “bigger and better.”

He is already planning to put the business back to better shape (Read Entrepreneur upbeat about future prospects on Page 4).

Patton New Zealand Limited, which has a manufacturing facility in Sydenham, suffered damages but Chief Executive Officer Sameer Handa said the staff had miraculously escaped without any injuries.

“The branch office is now back to normal, following safety clearance issued by the authorities,” he said.

Prime Minister John Key announced on March 28 that the Government would provide extended assistance to Christchurch businesses and workers, in addition to the initial Earthquake Support package launched in February.

The Package accounts for extension of Earthquake Support Subsidy for employers and Job Loss Cover for workers until April 18.

Further assistance will be subject to tighter application criteria.

Mr Key described the initial package as “a solid first step for Christchurch businesses and individuals on the road to rebuilding their lives and livelihoods.” “Following the extension of the Earthquake Support package, those businesses which are currently receiving the Earthquake Support Subsidy, and which remain viable but need short-term support, will be eligible to apply for the second round of the Earthquake Support Subsidy.

“There will also be an exceptions process for those businesses that do not meet the tightened criteria, but which can demonstrate a strong case for limited additional support”, Mr Key said.

Those businesses qualifying for the second round of the Earthquake Support Subsidy will receive payments at gradually reducing rates each fortnight over the six-week period.

The second round of the Subsidy will, for the first fortnight, stand at the current rate of $500 gross per week for full-time employees, and $300 for part-time employees. This will reduce to $375 and $225 (part-time) for the second fortnight, and $250 and $150 (part-time) for the third fortnight.

Job Loss Cover for those workers who lost their job immediately after the earthquake will be extended until April 18.

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