Remarkable Sweet Shop | The sweet smell of success

The Palmer family opened their first Remarkable Sweet Shop in Arrowtown in 2004, quickly adding two further stores in expansion that has seen the Palmers hit the sweet spot of confectionary retail in New Zealand.

Jono Palmer oversees the operation from his base in Arrowtown, where the company also owns a commercial kitchen to produce its world-famous fudge products, and large warehousing facility holding more than 1,000 confectionary product lines sourced from New Zealand, Europe and the US.

Jono says he and his parents David and Liz started talking about setting up an old-fashioned style confectionary store back in 1998. “We knew it would work well in the Queenstown tourist market and six years later, we were very fortunate to secure our first shop in Arrowtown, which has set the tone for the Remarkable Sweet Shop brand experience – an old fashioned, traditional sweet shop in a beautiful and historic town. We designed the store with one cash register, but after one day of trading, we ordered another one! It was an instant success.”

The fact that the Queenstown property market was experiencing a lull back in 2004 bode well for Jono and his parents. “A year after opening our Arrowtown store we found an ideal site in Queenstown’s CBD. You could say we were in the right place at the right time and the property market helped us to expand our business,” says Jono.

The logistics required to source, import and produce hundreds of tonnes of sweets each year are complex. There is also a staff of 40 to manage.

“The key thing for us is that our large warehousing and administration facility in Bush Creek has enabled us to retail and wholesale confectionary products. We sell to a variety of sweet shops, delis and other specialty stores around New Zealand. We also supply small retailers in the Pacific Islands.”

The company is in the throes of restructuring to enable Liz and David to retire; a process in which Jono says Markhams Otago advisor Daniel Piebenga has played a key role.

“We work closely with Daniel and Barry (O’Donnell, another Markhams Otago director). They understand relationships very well and are very hands-on in terms of spending time with us here in Arrowtown, visiting regularly. You can’t underestimate the value in face-to-face meetings. The benefit of having Markhams in the room is that you get results.”

While the details of the restructure are still being finalised, Jono says Daniel has been instrumental in both financial matters and negotiation.

“We are undergoing a very successful and efficient negotiation and Daniel was present for those key moments. He has a really excellent grip on financial and valuation management, but also great interpersonal skills. He’s been steering our meetings, which is invaluable.”

The Remarkable Sweet Shop business has a full-time accountant who works closely with Markhams.

“It’s a good relationship – we don’t need Markhams to be involved day to day, but we rely on Daniel and the team for steering the business strategically and advising us on our financial and tax management and our end of year financials. And yes, they love sweets!”

The Remarkable Sweet Shops recently achieved the ‘No.1 Customer Service’ spot on Trip Advisor for shopping in Queenstown. “There’s a high degree of interaction between staff and customers. Combine that with an overwhelming range of distinct and often unique sweets, and it’s a winning recipe.”