Neil Punja is a man on a mission to transform Manurewa and Clendon town centres into vibrant, bustling hubs for local shoppers and businesses.
As head of the Manurewa Business Association and manager at Southmall, Mr Punja says there is a lot to be positive about.
“We are in a really exciting space right now with a really good mix of retail, services and restaurants, there are only one or two empty rentable spaces and people are spending more,” he says.
“That might surprise some people but we have worked really hard over the past few years and, with the support of Manurewa Local Board and council, are starting to improve the physical state of the town centre and develop a quality mix of businesses.”
Physical works include improving the streetscapes at the front and rear of Southmall and a canopy from the train station. Upgrading the toilets and replacing part of the floor in Southmall has also had a positive impact.
Another big coup is big box retailer Crackerjack setting up in the mall.
“They wouldn’t have done that if they didn’t have confidence we had something to offer. They are doing really well and one of the top performing stores in the country.”
This has all translated into people spending more and more often in the town centre. The latest figures* show that in the 12 months to June 2018, spending in Manurewa town centre was up by 11.5 per cent and the number of transactions increased by 5.9 per cent.
The average transaction value was also up from $36 last year to $37.91 this year.
However, it is not all about business. Mr Punja says Manurewa people have a great sense of pride in their community – something he is keen to harness for the town centre.
“It is nice that we all know each other here. We host a lot of community events in Southmall including the Manurewa Community Expo and Christmas events.”
Mr Punja is also putting his knowledge to good use in Clendon, having recently being appointed chair of the Clendon Business Association.
“We want to work with local business and the community to boost pride and improve safety in this neighbourhood centre.”
Town centre success key to building a prosperous local economy
The success of the two town centres is at the heart of Manurewa Local Board’s desire for a prosperous and thriving local economy that supports local people and enables them to live, work and play close to home.
The local board plan states several initiatives that have been identified to achieve that outcome including:
- Work with the town centre steering group to create a vibrant Manurewa town centre precinct for travelling, working, socialising and living
- Develop the park and recreation spaces surrounding the privately-owned Clendon shopping centre
- Partner with Clendon’s local business owners and residents to support community events, build pride and improve public safety.
*Source Marketview Annual Retail Activity report – Manurewa Retail Centre.