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'Terrible uncertainty' of wait for earthquake news

Tuesday 1st March 2011

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Renaissance Corp chairman Colin Giffney spoke of the "terrible uncertainty" facing friends and family of shareholder and director Murray Wood, who was also managing director of Canterbury Television.

Wood was in the CTV building which collapsed during last Tuesday's devastating Christchurch earthquake, Mr Giffney told the Renaissance annual meeting today.

"We have not heard any official news except to expect the worst. Our thoughts are with Murray's family and his wide network of friends and business associates as they, like so many others, face this terrible uncertainty."

The other 230 people, including students, Renaissance had in central Christchurch at the time of the quake were safe, Giffney said.

The building that housed digital design school Natcoll appeared to have withstood the events but more would be known about it by mid-March.

The building that housed the Apple specialist retail store MagnumMac/Yoobee was structurally affected and had major liquefaction in the car park. Temporary premises were being arranged.

"We are giving staff every support to rebuild and recreate. We are sure that concentrating efforts on the future will also help all of our stakeholders in Christchurch move forward," Giffney said.

"MagnumMac and Natcoll were mammoth parts of Murray's life and we know he would want us to do that as well."

The first four months of the financial year, starting in October, had produced a mixed trading result, he said.

October, immediately following the GST increase, was "very poor", and while November was better it was still behind budget and the company started to take action to reduce costs.

Overall, in the four months to January 31, revenue was down 6% on a year earlier. Gross margin had improved from 13.7% to 16.3%.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were a loss of $170,000, compared to a loss of $2.4 million a year earlier, both including one-off costs.

With changes made since November, earnings before interest and tax of about $1 million were expected for the year to September, most earned in the second half of the financial year, Giffney said.

"There is considerable uncertainty in this guidance. Around the country retail sales have dived as a direct result of the earthquake last week. Also, we do not yet know what the direct impact of Christchurch will be on us."



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