Putting Verve back into hospitality
When the September 2010 quake hit Christchurch, Nicky Geddes couldn't believe her luck – her café, Victoria Perk, in Victoria Square, was undamaged and just outside the first red zone.
"People flocked to see the damage, needed coffee and food, and we were there to serve in a prime spot - the business did very well for a while," she says.
But with hindsight Nicky admits it was a case of counting her chickens as come February 22nd her beloved café had been shaken so hard it was red stickered soon after and the business had to close.
"Looking back we were lulled into a false sense of security. We had our building and our business, and it all disappeared in a few seconds. Thank goodness we all escaped unhurt but it was the end of an era," she says.
With no building, no kitchen and her equipment stuck in the red zone Nicky pondered what next.
"As I sat and thought I realised I had two secret weapons. The first is my husband, a closet clever clogs when it comes to engineering. The other is the team at Taurus Group who gave me the ability to realise I could create something different and be financially more successful.
"So I went mobile. My husband designed a trailer kitchen and Taurus provided a financial plan to establish Verve Real Food Catering. Three years on, we now have two mobile kitchens, both have walk in chillers, full gas cooking and are able to accommodate up to five chefs working simultaneously, meaning we can create meals for up to 300 diners," she says.
With the loss of so many venues after the quakes, going mobile has proved to be a good move for Nicky with people picking all sorts of venues for events that don't have kitchens. She's also able to indulge her passion for real food and fantastic service, knowing the financial aspects of the business are being overseen by Taurus.
"I simply love being in the kitchen, cooking and creating – this is what I am good at. So I'm quite happy to pay for good financial and tax advice," she says.
"The team at Taurus manage my business and personal financial affairs, they're always available and we consider them to be part of the management team."
The change in Nicky's circumstances has led to a far better business result. Mobile catering has proven to be way more profitable and she jokes she used to be very good at losing money but now it's different. Overheads are low and Nicky is the only full-time employee.
"Thanks to Taurus we have a very efficient financial structure, which means we can get on with doing what we do best – creating real, fresh and exquisite food experiences," Nicky says.