New Zealand's Vbase Downsizing Following Earthquakes
New Zealand's Vbase Downsizing Following Earthquakes

One of New Zealand's biggest venue management companies has had to drastically slash its headcount as a result of the devastating Feb. 22 earthquakes which rocked the country's second city Christchurch.

Local firm Vbase has confirmed a downsizing strategy which would see dozens of staff sacked to save on overhead. Among those let go are the CEO Brian Pearson and five senior managers, while Christchurch City Council will assume control of the business for the next two to three months.

Vbase owns and manages the AMI Stadium, CBS Canterbury Arena (formerly known as Westpac Arena), Christchurch Convention Centre and Christchurch Town Hall for Performing Arts. Only the 9,000-capacity CBS Canterbury Arena - one of just two world-class arenas in the country -- has managed to withstand major damage and the venue reopened in March. The other three sites remain closed.

Prior to the 6.3 magnitude earthquake, Vbase hosted more than 1,800 events each year across its portfolio of venues and counted 218 full-time equivalent positions, made up of about 100 full-time posts, a similar number of part-time and more than 650 casual staff. Now, Vbase will cut 45 full-time positions in effect from June 30, while part-time and casual hours have been scaled-back.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says the latest decision delivers fixed overhead cost savings of NZ $3.8 million ($3.07 million) a year and carries a one-off cost of NZ$1.4 million ($1.13 million), including redundancy payments.