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Old makes way for new as Raro retailer expands

Wednesday 3 May 2023 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Business, National

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Old makes way for new as Raro retailer expands
The derelict building in front of the Raromart facility is demolished on Tuesday. PHOTO: AL WILLIAMS/23050210

A Rarotonga retailer is pressing forward with a development worth close to $1 million.

Raromart and the T-Shirt Factory are set to expand operations with the construction of a prefabricated three-storied facility on a 360 square metre site next to Raromart’s existing headquarters in Avarua.

The T-Shirt Factory, neighbouring the Empire Theatre several hundred metres east along the Main Rd, will soon close as its expanded retail operation will occupy the ground floor of the new facility.

Raromart/T-Shirt Factory director Don Carlaw said he expects to have the development completed by September.

The existing T-Shirt Factory retail outlet is a landmark building on Rarotonga which has been operating as a clothing store since the late 1990s.

However, it has multiple issues including leaks, Carlaw said.

The new facility will have more than 1000 sqm of floor space spread across three floors, and complement the existing Raromart store, he said. 

Carlaw said he is on the lookout for tenants for the first and second floors, which will be serviced by an elevator.

The former derelict building on the road frontage site was demolished yesterday and a new concrete slab will be poured on site once the rubbish and debris is removed.

Carlaw said he secured a lease for the site recently and construction would be swift.

The new kitset building had arrived from China and Steve Anderson from Anderson’s Electrical would manage construction.

Carlaw described the new facility as “more upmarket”, part of a long-term vision where the two operations work more closely.

He said the location was fast becoming “the centre of town”, closer to the Punanga Nui Market and “a lot more secure in the event of a hurricane”.

The T-Shirt Factory employs six and Raromart employs 12 staff – another three would be employed to cater for the expanded operation.

Carlaw said he was feeling confident in light of the challenging economic climate.

“Tourism is on the up, provided we don’t have another Covid type event.

“Tourism should do well over the next three years; even if New Zealand goes into recession, we will be the least affected.

“People might be reluctant to travel further, but Rarotonga will do well at least over the next three years.”