The new owner of Paper Plus Ōrewa, Kevin Francis, is a former British Army officer, whose passion for travel and adventure has taken him all over the world.
Kevin first came to NZ to take British troops on mountaineering trips, which included climbing Mount Aspiring.
“I was pleasantly surprised by the funny backwards and forwardness of New Zealand,” he says. “When I moved here in 1991, all the shops still closed on the weekends, but you could pay for your petrol with an Eftpos card, when the UK didn’t have them.
“There has always been a sense that you could make it here if you wanted to.”
This was a far cry from how Kevin felt coming from working-class England.
“The opportunity to succeed in NZ wasn’t as limited to how you speak or which school you went to as it was in the UK,” he says.
Since immigrating, Kevin worked for 20 years in online, digital and internet companies before deciding to take the jump into having his own business.
He bought his first business, a book shop and post office in Kerikeri, four years ago.
Now living in Millwater, he shares his time between his Kerikeri shop and Ōrewa Paper Plus, and is also the chairman of the NZ Post and Kiwibank Franchise Board.
“I like sitting on boards, because if you want to bring about change then you need to be prepared to put yourself forward.”
Improvements coming to his new Paper Plus store include ‘creative stations’ where you can print photos straight from your device.
A locals corner, that features books about or written by people in the community, is also a new feature and he plans to increase community engagement. For instance, Nadia Lim will start her national book signing tour at Ōrewa Paper Plus on Thursday October 17.
“Any business needs to branch out locally,” Kevin says.
“But I don’t know what I don’t know, so if there is anything else people think we should be providing, I encourage them to come in and let us know.”