Covid 19 Delta outbreak: New Nature Baby store opening in Newmarket after Covid hit plans

It’s one of the thousands of Auckland retailers planning to open on Wednesday but this shop has an unusual genesis: it never opened before.

An Auckland shop owner who planned to open a new store just as lockdown hit will finally welcome customers on Wednesday.

It’s been a long, hard road for this baby specialist who has had his rent cut by 60 per cent when he was forced to stay shut.

“There was no turning back,” said Jacob Faull, chief executive and founder of infant specialist Nature Baby on a deal he struck to lease new premises.

His Newmarket store is now about open and he is grateful his landlord charged only 40 per cent rent in the last three months.

“We received a 60 per cent discount. They are an awesome family who used to run a construction/engineering business out of there from the 1950s till the 1980s. They have been amazing landlords for us during these times,” Faull said.

He could not open at 14 Melrose St while the city was under alert levels 4 then 3.

“Wednesday is the official opening and then for the first time, we can welcome customers inside,” Faull said.

The business was only three weeks away from opening in August.

“We had committed to the lease, stock and fittings. There was no turning back. We have been in positions where the market was volatile so backed out of leases but we found we probably should have stuck it out as the market quickly corrects, so regardless we will continue to grow and develop,” he said today.

Asked about opening just as the city emerged out of lockdown, Faull said: “We are very optimistic. Last year, we saw a big shift to brands like ours which are based around sustainability, quality, purpose and hope, customers values are shifting strongly and we believe Covid has accelerated these views.”

The business started in 1998 when Jacob and Georgina Faull looked for sustainable, natural and innovative products for their own family.

The new 300sq m store will have a practitioner room, sustainable community kitchen and will hold workshops on wellbeing.

Faull said last May he had also got rent discounted at his Nature Baby at 423 Richmond Rd in West Lynn owned by Sir Michael Freidlander’s Samson Corporation. He knew of places where rent had been cut by thousands.

“They’ve been amazing. It was just what we needed. The architecture they develop is amazing, any time we have a problem they fix it up,” Faull said of the Friedlander business.

He knew of other cases where the Friedlanders had cut the rent by 80 per cent for many weeks.

Last week, Precinct Properties’ chief executive Scott Pritchard said that the listed landlord had given tenant assistance of $10m since the start of the pandemic lockdowns last March.

He told the company’s AGM that Precinct have provided support through a range of relief packages, including rental abatements. Since the pandemic started, this has totalled financial support of circa $10m, he said.

Leonie Freeman, Property Council chief executive, said major property owners had given in excess of $320m in rent relief since the start of Covid.

In September, Justice Minister Kris Faafoi announced the Government was making an immediate change to the Property Law Act which will insert a clause into commercial leases requiring a “fair proportion” of rent to be paid where a tenant has been unable to fully conduct their business in their premises due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

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