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Christchurch Three Years On: Back on track – quickly

When BDO managing partner Warren Johnstone reflects on the earthquake period he just remembers the imperative of getting back on track.

“We had over 3500 head clients and had 60 staff and they all depended on us, so it was critical the partners got our practice back up and running to make sure we could support our clients and staff when they needed supporting the most.  

“Having to move from a red-stickered building to unsatisfactory temporary premises and then into good standard offices all within three months of the major quake was a real challenge,” he says. “We managed to negotiate our way into semi-permanent premises and from there went about strengthening our firm.” 

The partners were always sure Christchurch would recover from the devastation and then grow.

“We badly wanted our firm to be a major player in assisting with that re-growth.”  

When many professional firms were shrinking and coping with the day-to-day issues of the earthquake, BDO Christchurch went through a significant merger and brought in two new partners to strengthen the service offering.  

“Three years on, we now have 11 partners and a team of more than 100 providing business advisory services, rural accounting, audit, tax, corporate finance and business recovery work.” 

Mr Johnstone says the partners remain committed to taking part in the recovery.  

For example, one of the senior partners, Stephen Tubbs, was a trustee in the Restart the Heart Project which was involved in the opening a temporary mall in the central city, a significant moment in the CBD’s path to recovery. 

“Our firm is better than it was three years ago, the partners are all committed to Christchurch and we will be actively involved in making the next 10 to 20 years of our recovery a huge success.  

“It’s an exciting time for the city and for our practice,” Mr Johnstone says.

BDO Christchurch is an independent member firm and is one of 11 offices around New Zealand.

Read: the rest of the Christchurch Three Years On feature stories here