Is it time to move your Business to the Regions?

I recently moved to Hawkes Bay with my family from Auckland to take up the role of General Manager for the Central North Island. Coming from Auckland where businesses are struggling to find sufficient office space and acquire the right staff, due to the unaffordability of the city, not to mention the added pressure on infrastructure, this move has been incredibly refreshing.

I’ve now been reaping the benefits of the regional lifestyle for five months and thoroughly enjoy travelling around the Central North Island cities and towns we operate in including Palmerston North, Gisborne and New Plymouth. It’s during these visits that it struck me, that there is plenty of quality office space without the big city price tag, for now.

At TPG, we recognise that we need to have coverage and representation throughout the country. Having people on the ground where our clients are is critical to our service orientated business. However, like most medium sized businesses we have corporate teams where proximity to clients is not critical. TPG itself holds part of its head office in Napier, including IT and Finance, so we realise the benefits of having core support based in the regions.

And we are not alone. Trustpower’s head office holds 525 staff in a new purpose-built facility on Durham Street in the Tauranga CBD. A couple of years back Brother International (NZ) Limited also recognised an opportunity and relocated its head office to Tauranga too. And last week Rod Drury announced Xero would open a new office in Hawke's Bay next year. The office would house 30 support staff including payroll.

In my opinion, more businesses should be doing the same and there are good reason for both the business and the region, including:

  1. Cheaper overheads, lower rent and OPEX.
  2. More accommodation options both commercially and residentially.
  3. Develops regional economies.
  4. Councils are actively looking at ways to encourage businesses to their cities and towns. This in itself creates opportunities.
  5. Lifestyle. Attracting quality staff to the regions is becoming easier given the stresses of the big cities.

However, I do not want to be accused of bias and I do recognise there are downsides to a regional shift which include:

  1. Auckland international airport is key for our international trade. It always will be and as such, will continue to be the hub of New Zealand’s economic activity. However Tauranga is currently New Zealand’s busiest port, having taken over from Auckland recently when it had the foresight to expand the channel for larger vessels.
  2. The majority of core businesses are based in the big cities, making doing business easier.
  3. More money is spent by Central and Local Government on infrastructure in the big cities which encourages greater connectivity.
  4. Flying in and out of regional airports is expensive and the options are limited. But with Jetstar making a move into the regional airports, pricing is starting to become more competitive.

Advances in technology will continue to make relocation or starting up in the regions more of a viable option.

So if you want to discuss moving business to the regions and the options available drop me a line. I’d be happy to meet up and walk you through the, what to do and what not to do.

However I wouldn’t wait too long to make the move, next to our Napier office, a new commercial build is underway with the letting sign proudly stating that the premise is already fully let. There is another in Havelock North. I believe the opportunity is now.