An international charity focused on saving and protecting the world’s most vulnerable children is closing its New Zealand retail stores due to declining profits.
In August, the board of Save the Children New Zealand made the decision to close all 15 shops nationwide, but one – the Kaiapoi store in Canterbury.
The charity’s chief executive Heather Hayden said closing the stores was not an easy decision to make.
“Save the Children has had shops for many years and over the last few years we’ve had quite a number of them close, so we have decided to close the remainder.
“This is largely because retail is no longer a successful way of raising funds.”
Most charity stores sold used clothing and furniture which helped drive profits – all but one of the Save the Children stores did not, she said.
“We only sell gifts and brand merchandise and with the downturn in retail over the past few years – look at Kirks, that’s closing – we have had to make a decision.
“As an organisation, we’ve been watching retail drop away dramatically,” Hayden said.
“Back in the 80s and 90s the stores were a major source of funding for Save the Children – they were really worth while – but now with people shopping online, the rise of Australian retailers, and increased market competition, it’s dropping away.”
Increased insurance rates led to an increase in rent, in turn leading to a decrease in profit, she said.
“We are not making any money, we are making very, very little money.”
The stores are run by hundreds of volunteers and Hayden understands a number of them are upset by the decision.
“It is very hard for our volunteers – who are absolutely wonderful – because some have been dedicated to the shops for 20 years.”
About 15 stores throughout the country will be close before April.
Funds were continuing to roll in from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and regular “givers”, she said.
“The way people give money has changed over time, but it was still a very hard decision to make.”
The charity would continue to fundraise through other channels and Hayden was confident they woulds come up with new ways to raise money, Hayden said.
Save the Children is present in 120 countries and focuses on helping children in New Zealand, the Pacific and Asia and helps children caught in emergencies around the world.