Founded in 1979 by Peter and Joan Hanson, the first Aotea Gifts store was in Takanini. Today the company has nine stores around the country and 140 employees selling the best of New Zealand, to our visitors.
ANZ customer story
Located on one of the busiest corners of downtown Auckland, Aotea Gifts is a stalwart of the city’s thriving tourism industry.
Founded in 1979 by Peter and Joan Hanson, the first store was in Takanini. Today the company has nine stores around the country and 140 employees selling the best of New Zealand, to our visitors.
While Peter remains involved, it is sons Donald and Richard who are now taking the helm. The brothers spent much of their childhood in the stores, both helping out and playing in the piles of sheepskins. And it’s that history which continues to play an important part in the day to day running of the business.
"You can always learn from what happened in past because if it’s already been tried, you can find different ways of doing things and new angles and try it again," says Richard.
Aotea Gifts offers a large range of gifts for tourists to take home with them, everything from a $1.20 postcard to a $2,000 Cervelt (a fibre made from the down of a Red Deer) scarf. There’s also a large range of Manuka honey, NZ confectionary, sheepskins, clothing, tea towels and everything in between. With such a large product range, it’s vital the business keeps up with the latest trends.
"Over the past 40 years we have gained huge knowledge about what customers from different countries are interested in and how markets will evolve over time," says Donald.
Over four decades, the store has become much more than just a place to make a transaction. For many of their customers it is their first contact with a New Zealander and they are keen for information about their new destination.
"They are coming in to learn about New Zealand in general or our products. It is the job of our staff to share the New Zealand story with them," Donald says.
And with many of our tourists having English as a second language, Aotea Gifts is also a place where they can find a friendly face and a more familiar conversation. There are around 30 different nationalities amongst Aotea Gifts’ staff, speaking about 45 languages.
Richard is proud that Aotea Gifts has become something of a ‘brand incubator’ for NZ products looking to expand into overseas markets.
"There is an opportunity for us to maintain relationships with customers who come to us. Once they have been exposed to products they like, when they go home we can turn them into longer term customers."
And ANZ has been a crucial partner every step of the way.
"Their understanding of our business has provided the scope to secure opportunities when the time arises. Their non- financial support and interest in our business success is also apparent," Richard says.
The business remains entirely family owned and operated, something the brothers say has far more pros than cons.
"We have a lot of flexibility and a lot of trust and we are able to make a plan and action it very quickly," says Richard.
"One of biggest downfalls is a family dinner or holiday is an excuse for a board meeting," jokes Donald.
As Aotea continues to grow the family is able to make long term decisions about the future of the company for the next forty years. One of the most exciting developments is the business’s upcoming return to central Christchurch after losing three stores during the Christchurch earthquake.
"It definitely made us stronger. Adversity makes you focus on what is really important, and that can be very different from what you thought it was the day before."
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This material is for information purposes only. Its content is intended to be of a general nature, does not take into account your financial situation or goals, and is not a personalised financial adviser service under the Financial Advisers Act 2008. It is recommended you seek advice from a financial adviser which takes into account your individual circumstances before you acquire a financial product. An ANZ Authorised Financial Adviser will, on request and free of charge, provide you with his or her disclosure statement prepared under the Financial Advisers Act 2008. If you wish to consult one of ANZ's financial advisers, please contact us on 0800 269 296.