Last week NZ Post and Kiwibank appeared again before a parliamentary select committee to face questions on the proposed changes to services in Johnsonville.
NZ Post plans to partner with a local business to continue to provide the full suite of postal and bill payment services. Kiwibank proposes to close its physical presence locally, retaining services through phone and internet banking, with the closest branches to be in the city and Lower Hutt.
While there is no question that commercial realities will strongly influence their decisions - decisions which must be made independent of political interference – it’s puzzling that Kiwibank would remain so insistent on removing its physical branch presence in the highest growth area of Wellington. To exit from the area hands an advantage to their rivals. I have previously encouraged Kiwibank to take another look at the market potential across the area.
The Johnsonville Mall owners consider the catchment area to cover at least Ngaio through to Tawa, as well as Ōhāriu Valley across to Woodridge, including future development on Lincolnshire Farm. They consider the demographics across our area to be amongst the most attractive for a suburban mall in the country. It’s a shame Kiwibank can’t seem to see the same opportunity.
Having questioned them both on their proposals previously, I asked what they are doing to support their staff during this protracted period of uncertainty. Both offered assurances that staff are being supported well, including potential employment prospects following the store closures.
They both also committed to retaining services in the current location until NZ Post has found a suitable partner to take over their services.