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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Quake hit firms get giant business hub

Quake hit firms get giant business hub

ALAN WOOD
Last updated 13:11 07/04/2011
Westpac Bank is launching a giant sized business hub with free services in response to the needs of firms hard hit by the February 22 earthquake.

The recovery of such Christchurch firms will be boosted by free access to the essentials of day to day trading with the launch of The Westpac Business Hub, the bank says.

The Westpac Business Hub will be open to all Christchurch businesses and provide a range of services free of charge including phone, broadband, video conferencing capability, a corporate lounge and up to 65 offices ranging in size from small cubicles to a boardroom.

Located in the grounds of Addington Raceway, in Christchurch, the Westpac Business Hub will cover 2,500 square metres and can be extended to meet additional demand. It is likely to be open for up to 18 months.

Ian Blair, Westpac's General Manager of Business Bank, said the Hub was a result of feedback from customers.

Since the February 22nd quake, the bank had contacted all of its nearly 3000 business customers in the city and a recurring theme had been the practical difficulties of doing business on a day-to-day basis, he said.

''The hub will offer all the essential tools of doing business - phone, photocopying, office space and video conferencing capability and the fit-out will have the look and feel of a business environment. All free of charge,'' Blair said.

''Another impact from the quake has been that not only has a business had to relocate, but so have their suppliers and customers. Therefore, being able to have those regular and important face to face meetings and build and maintain those relationships has gotten so much harder. The hub is easy to access from most parts of the city and can act as a central meeting place to help with those types of problems.''

Many businesses were also dealing with insurance and other important issues.

Within that context meeting with advisors, firms usually paid for, had not been easy.

''To help with that, we are looking at those supporting services such as lawyers, accountants and other advisors being available on site.''

Prime Minister John Key has welcomed Westpac's announcement.

"It is great to see Westpac offering this practical assistance to help local businesses continue their operations and maintain their relationships with suppliers and customers.

"It also sends a strong message that Christchurch businesses, despite dealing with disruptive circumstances, are continuing to be viable," said Key.

All Christchurch businesses will have access to the facilities although Westpac customers will have some priority, Blair said.

The hub is expected to be operational in May and Westpac partner with other strategic partners to broaden its capability and support its effort to get Christchurch business back on its feet.

Westpac had been integral to New Zealand and Canterbury businesses and consumer through good times and bad for 150 years, and the Westpac Business Hub was an example of the bank listening to customers, Blair said.

- BusinessDay.co.nz

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