Leading questions: What Kiwi Property Group chief executive Clive Mackenzie expects of 2021

Clive Mackenzie, Kiwi Property Group chief executive, is bracing himself for more disruption in 2021. This Covid year brought massive change for the business and now he’s predicting more.

How would you describe 2020 for your business?

It has had plenty of ups and downs, but I’m proud of the way we’ve supported our tenants and kept moving forward despite the challenges caused by Covid-19. We’ve achieved some great milestones, including the opening of the new 20,000sq m level one expansion at Sylvia Park, which has performed extremely well since opening. It has taught us a lot about the importance of adaptability and resilience, lessons that we’re looking forward to taking into 2021, which is shaping up to be a big one for Kiwi Property.

What are two key things the Government should do for economic recovery?

It goes without saying, but the sooner we can make a safe vaccine widely available the better, not just from a health perspective, but an economic one as well. Until the population is immunised, business won’t get truly back to normal or the borders be fully re-opened. The return of international tourists and students is vital to New Zealand’s economic recovery. While we’ve seen some sectors holding up better than expected, others are under enormous pressure and will remain so until overseas visitors can return.

How is your business planning to tackle 2021?

We have an exciting programme lined up for 2021, as we continue to push ahead with our plans to create mixed-use communities at Sylvia Park, LynnMall, The Base and ultimately Drury. Covid-19 forced us to put a hold on some of the projects we had in store for 2020, but with more certainty in the market and a vaccine on the horizon, we’re keen to push ahead. 2020 was the year of Covid and we want 2021 to be a year of action.

What will be the major challenges and/or opportunities for your industry?

There will invariably be challenges ahead, but I’m an optimist by nature and focused on the opportunities 2021 will bring. With more than half of all Aucklanders now renting and the cost of homes continuing to rise, I see huge potential for build-to-rent apartments to help alleviate some of the country’s housing crisis. We’re hoping to get our first development under way this year and look forward to playing our role in delivering high-quality accommodation for Auckland renters.

What was the most interesting non-Covid story of 2020?

It feels like an incredible amount has happened in 2020, so it’s hard to pinpoint just one story. Amidst all the news of hardship from this year, it’s been encouraging to see some incredible stories of people and communities coming together to support one another. There’s a fair bit of division out in the world at the moment, but if there’s one thing the past year has taught us it’s the importance of friends and family.

Where are you holidaying this summer?

With Covid-19 putting a hold on overseas travel, there’s never been a better time to check out our own country, so I’m planning on visiting some North Island beaches, and probably visiting a vineyard or two along the way. You can’t beat a good Kiwi summer so as long as the sun is shining and there are no Zoom calls, I’ll be happy.

What are your predictions for 2021?

I’m expecting the rate of change, accelerated by Covid, to get even faster. We’ve seen companies disrupted during 2020 in ways we never thought possible, but there have been others that were able to unlock amazing opportunities amidst the volatility. I’m looking forward to witnessing some innovative New Zealand businesses taking off next year and showing the world the power of Kiwi entrepreneurship, and ingenuity.

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