Nina's Chocolates opens a new store at Engadine to preserve jobs during coronavirus impact

Lucia Balfre, Lauren Dennis and Michelle Corben at the new Nina's store at Engadine: . Picture: Chris Lane
Lucia Balfre, Lauren Dennis and Michelle Corben at the new Nina's store at Engadine: . Picture: Chris Lane

One of Sutherland Shire's favourite small businesses has opened a new store at Engadine in order to preserve jobs.

Nina's Chocolates is located in the Waratah Arcade near popular Steam Brothers Coffee.

General manager Michelle Corben said business at the Gymea Village store had been impacted by social distancing requirements, which meant there could only be four customers inside at any time.

"From the bushfires to COVID-19, it's been a tough year for everyone and we wanted to come up with an idea to preserve and create jobs," she said.

"We tried a pop-up store at South Village, but it's hard because you have to pack everything away in the afternoon.

"Engadine seemed a good location because we already had a lot of customers from this area and it is also handy for people coming up the highway from Wollongong and the South Coast.

"Three of our staff also live in the area.

"The Engadine people have been very supportive and we have been able to preserve all the jobs.

"Through renovating and opening the new store, we've also been able to support a number of local tradespeople and service-providers."

More than 20 staff work at Nina's Gymea premises, where chocolates are made, hand--packed and distributed all over Australia.

The business was founded nearly 25 years ago by George Magganas, a chocolate obsessed food technologist, together with his wife May.

It was originally located in Kirrawee, but moved to larger premises at Gymea, and changed hands after the couple retired.

Ms Corben said, while the new store was an exciting development, "we're all living in a highly uncertain environment".

"On the eve of our 25th anniversary, we're focused on running and building our business for the next 25 years," she said.

"We've all faced a challenging few months, and who knows what the months ahead hold.

"But all our stakeholders, including staff, customers, suppliers and landlords can be assured that with mutual support we'll come out the other end in good shape."