Paint & decorating – a summer report

By Jess Brunette February 14, 2017 Painting & Decorating

How has the summer been so far for the paint and decorating vendors across the country? We spoke to retailers in various locales around the country for their thoughts on what has done well and predictions on what will be hot in 2017. Jess Brunette reports.

To view a PDF of the complete feature as it appeared in NZ Hardware Journal magazine, click the download button at the bottom of this page.



Starting down south in Dunedin, Justin Macready of PlaceMakers Dunedin and Mosgiel sounded fairly resigned when I spoke to him about some truly terrible weather down his way that has seen his store’s paint and decorating categories down on previous years.

Macready has also noticed the season for paint and decorating change over the years in the Dunedin stores with the biggest sales month changing from November to February/March in recent times.

“It’s raining now, it rained yesterday and the day before and it’s been raining pretty much constantly through most of October, all of November, half of December with bouts of hail in January,” he says.

As a result, with a lot of regular customers owning student flats, interior paint is selling well but exterior sales have definitely been affected, he says.

Luckily the store still does well with the trades throughout the year with plenty of new homes still being built, particularly in nearby Central Otago where construction is “raging”.

So, what does well in the southern hotspot? “People are moving to better quality, so Wattyl Solagard is selling very well and Dulux is still popular. In terms of exterior its charcoals, dark greys, browny greys, all earthy colours that go well with cedar and dark colours for fences and negative details on exterior cladding with the new Linea boards in darker colours.”

Still, he adds: “Interiors are still in whites and more conservative is the big trend that we see so there are very few feature walls.”



Let’s move inland to Alexandra, where Kerry McAuley of Central Otago Mitre 10 has had much better luck this summer, particularly with the co-op’s Valspar partnership.

“Business is definitely up compared to last years,” she says. “I think Valspar has given us a point of difference and the interior paint having a top coat and primer in one has been a good drawcard.

“Also, the colours are great and really vibrant and the display material that they’ve supplied us has really given us the ability to show that off to the customers.”

When asked about the colours doing well in their neck of the woods, McAuley passes me on to Paint Specialist, Leanne Mcmaster.

“People are still loving the good old whites and they are often a sort of dirty white where you can see bluey-grey or a green coming through,” she says, adding: “Colour tends to be for those who want to brighten up their caravan or something like that.”

The true “hot spot” of Otago is, of course, Queenstown, just 90 kilometres down the road from Alexandra. Kerry McAuley having explained that the closer Cromwell store had been doing some excellent business, I wondered if that had filtered through to the Alexandra store?

“With us not being a trade store a lot of people might go to places where they can get everything at once but we’re definitely benefiting a lot more,” says Mcmaster. “There are a lot of rentals where people are buying houses and changing them up. So we’re not getting a lot of customers from new builds so far.”



Going up and across to the West Coast I managed to speak to Mitre 10 MEGA Greymouth’s Retail Manager, Richard Roberts, who was up against weather even worse than Dunedin’s.

“We’ve had some rough weather so that’s kept paint sales down a bit. At the moment we’re in the middle of a flood so no one can even get home at the moment!” he says.

Despite these extremes, people still have to paint the outside of their house at some point and Roberts says the Greymouth store still gets its share.

“Weather here is pretty harsh so we tend to sell a bit more than average because our customers need to paint more often. So people will stockpile a bit, especially with things like the Resene Save the GST promotion where they’ll buy early and hold the paint.”

Richard Roberts points out that Coasters tend to be fairly traditional in their paint preferences. So how was the change from tried & tested Dulux to Valspar received?

“The change to Valspar has affected us in particular. I guess Coasters are very slow to accept change but the launch of Valspar was over a year ago now, so it’s settled down. A while back, everyone went to Bunnings because they were loyal to Dulux. But, because we stock a good range of quality paints, we got them back,” Roberts says.


“This is the West Coast! You don’t get customers coming in asking about colour trends. Traditional, that’s the standard down here”

“Since then our Valspar rep has told us that our spend is really high compared to other MEGAs.” And this despite what he describes as the catchment’s “limited spend”.

It may be “a wee bit of a depressed area” but, percentage wise, Mitre 10 MEGA Greymouth is “holding its own” with Valspar and Resene, thanks to the baches in Moana owned by people based in Christchurch who in the past have bought their Resene from Christchurch.

“Now they come in here and we’ve got it and we are the only place in town that’s open right over the weekend.”

When I ask Richard Roberts about the colour trends favoured by coasters I am met with an incredulous laugh.

“This is the West Coast! They’re very traditional. You don’t get customers coming in asking about colour trends. And if you showed them a paint chart they wouldn’t know. Traditional, that’s the standard down here.”



Traveling up the country, over the strait and back across the coast now to Mitre 10 MEGA Hastings, where industry stalwart Stephen Ricketts is happy to report that the weather has been kind to the store’s paint and decorating category in recent months with the brand mix (including Valspar) selling well, particularly this January, and accessories doing even better than paint.

Have new home builds in the area been a contributing factor to the store’s success recently?

“Yes, new builds are going on but not to the level it was pre-GFC. Commercial has been strong however pretty much across the board including rural. We’re not dairy here but the Hawkes Bay-based industries are tracking well and that’s all feeding into the economy pretty nicely,” Ricketts says.

“So we’re tracking well ahead of budget and we see no change happening. The Hawkes Bay market is buoyant and paint is following that trend.”



Staying in the Hawkes Bay, Jamie Webster of Tumu ITM Napier has plenty to be happy about after securing the paint contract for a nearby 54 unit housing development, effectively converting the developers from Dulux to Wattyl.

“To me, that’s almost a couple of hundred thousand dollars’ worth of paint so it’s a bit of a coup for us,” Webster says.

Explaining that he worked closely with the Wattyl team up in Auckland to devise a quality package and price point to “incentivise the developers enough to move, he goes on: “It was quite a good project to work on – and we’re hoping that we can use this business model to get more large scale projects – but I’ll have to keep that service and consistency high. It’s a new way to skin cats and get some volume through,” he says.

Webster also takes his hat off to his paint team: “My paint specialists definitely helped get that big contract so their ‘paint brains’ were certainly helpful,” Webster says.

As for the type of products doing well, contract based or not, Wattyl Solagard and exterior deck stains have been big sellers for Tumu ITM Napier and Jamie Webster is looking forward to continuing with Valspar in 2017.

“It’s been interesting times but we’ve continued our relationship with Wattyl. In addition, we have access to all Wattyl accessories through our merchant account and the potential to have trade painters come through us is attractive to them as well.”



A three-hour drive up State Highway 5 takes us to Mitre 10 MEGA Taupo where Decorator Supervisor Natasha Homan reports that the store’s paint sales have been doing well despite some weather that “hasn’t been all that flash.”

Homan has seen strong uptake of Valspar interior paints throughout the summer months in Taupo and is pleased to note that exteriors are starting to move as well with Solagard Deck & Timber doing well in earthy colours like Greyfriars and Ironsand.

Cabot’s has also been doing well in the store with its stains and its new Decking Oil Applicator has been flying out the door with trade and DIY customers.

Being something of a hot spot for holiday homes, Taupo was one of the few stores I spoke to where bolder colours were doing well.

“We are also seeing wallpaper doing well for brightly coloured feature walls,” says Natasha Homan. “We haven’t had it in store that long but it’s starting to sell well now with large industrial patterns as well as very bold patterns with flowers getting interest.”



Moving up then right to Mount Maunganui we enter the so-called “golden triangle” of housing development where PlaceMakers Paint Specialist Val Williamson has been flat out.

“It’s been a very busy year in paint with all the building going on in the bay. There’s been a lot of restaining decks, in colours like Charcoal and Black Bean and the natural Kwila and Natural Pine are going well too.”

With so much going on in the area, time-saving accessories like deck and stain speed brushes have also been a winner for the store.

Looking at interiors, Williamson reports that the Mount is playing it pretty safe with “stock standard” whites that tend to be mixed with charcoal carpets.

And, while she has seen some resurgence of old-fashioned blues, black fences with charcoal toning are typical of most exterior colour schemes.



Travelling north we arrive at the Auckland suburb of Panmure, where Guthrie Bowron Manager Ishwar Sadhu caters mainly to the DIY market and is up against some fairly stiff competition in the area.

“The paint business is always a challenge. We match the price with the big sheds so that keeps us competitive and luckily we’ve got the full support of Dulux which solves the problem.”

So has he been capitalising on the much touted Auckland housing growth?

“Panmure is slow at the moment but I expect it to go berserk in the next month. We do Housing Corp work as Dulux has a contract to supply paint to all the Housing New Zealand developments so we get our share of that.

“The customers tell us what we want and we carry the stock. So we get the existing units or homes that need re-painting rather than new builds,” Sadhu explains.

This focus has also affected the types of products that do well for the Panmure Guthrie Bowron store.

“Protective coating paint is a growing trend for us like what you would use with concrete or masonry houses. You only get five square metres to a litre so it uses a lot of paint, at least double the amount of ordinary paint. It’s great for waterproofing problems and the new flexi-coats allow for contraction and expansion and help with cracking.”


Auckland – Status quo mostly but healthy nonetheless

Our final destination is a short trip across town to the reasonably upmarket inner city suburb of Newmarket. Theo Waters is the Assistant Manager of Newmarket Resene ColorShop and, while he has been busy, he feels that sales have been on par with previous summers for the store and that the neutral colour schemes haven’t changed much either.

“We’ve seen the same neutrals going out the door that have been trending for the last couple of years. Your black, white and alabaster and people are leaning toward matte finishes for everything they can get away with. There has also been a lot of blue mostly in the softer grey shades.”

Waters confirms what many others in the category have said in that feature walls, once the domain of bold paint colours, have dropped off considerably. And those who do choose to go with a feature wall are generally preferring to go with bold wallpaper rather than a splash of bright paint.  

And what does Theo Waters see happening trend-wise for the rest of 2017? “We are just about done with the over use of greys for exterior so expect more dangerous ideas in that area.”

Summing up, having finished our virtual trip around most of the country, I can certainly report that paint and decorating merchants and vendors seem to have had plenty of work on their hands this summer.

Even those hit by adverse weather during a pretty weird summer have kept their spirits up knowing that a healthy construction and housing market should get them through the rest of the year.

Big thanks to all the managers and paint specialists who took the time to chat and good luck for the coming year!

Intergrain gets a makeover

Intergrain Hydroguard formulation protects decking against UV, abrasion and the extremes of weather up to 3 times longer than traditional decking oils. Intergrain Timber Finishes have been designed to protect the natural beauty of timber. Their water-based products emit less VOC’s than traditional oil based timber finishes, have low toxicity, low odour and are much gentler on the environment. Also available, UltraDeck performance decking oil and NaturalStain longer lasting stain are water-based, UV resistant and hard wearing. Both feature new formulations. Choose from a range of colours in the all new look packaging.



A welcome addition

Introducing Sikkens Cetol BLX-Pro, a premium water-based exterior timber stain and the latest addition to the trusty Sikkens range. This new generation water based coating offers maximum protection for exterior timber, exceptional translucency and all the benefits of a traditional solvent borne stain with additional environmental benefits. Cetol BLX-Pro is UV resistant, quick drying but long lasting with a beautiful transparent satin finish. It cleans up in water, has a low odour and is kind to the environment, so it’s user-friendly too. Ideal for all exterior timber including decks Cetol BLX-Pro is available in 5L, 1L, in Light Oak, Teak and Dark Oak.



Out of the box

Bostik’s PEF Backing Rod is now in a convenient and easy to use box. Proudly NZ made, Bostik PEF Backing Rod is manufactured locally from the highest quality closed cell polyethylene to produce a joint backing material primarily for use in conjunction with Bostik sealants. Bostik’s polyethylene foam backing rod has good expansion recovery for a perfect fit and is available in various widths and lengths. Easy to install, odourless and non-toxic, this very lightweight product does not absorb water and there is no out-gassing.



Pantone’s Colour of 2017 is Greenery

Greenery (PANTONE 15-0343 TPG) is a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that signals consumers to take a deep breath, oxygenate and reinvigorate. Greenery is nature’s neutral, expressive in daily lives through urban planning, architecture, lifestyle and design choices globally. A constant on the periphery, Greenery is now being pulled to the forefront – as a life-affirming shade expect it to be an omnipresent hue around the world.




An enamel that cleans up in water!

Deserving of all the attention this new product is attracting is ULTIMATE ENAMEL from PPG. With all the self-levelling characteristics of a traditional oil based paint, it dries quickly, has very little odour, is low VOC and YES with superior washability it cleans up in water! Choose from Semi-Gloss, Gloss and 3 sizes: 1 litre, 4 litre, 10 litre with coverage up to 12 square metres per litre. ULTIMATE ENAMEL is available at Bunnings Warehouse.

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