Design firm Marchese Partners-Life3A builds its New Zealand presence with a clear blueprint for success

When Australian architecture and design firm Marchese Partners entered New Zealand in 2015, it identified a range of exciting opportunities.

First was the ability to combine global best practice with a local focus.

‘New Zealand is a very wealthy country in terms of cultural and historical diversity,’ explains Enrique Blanco de Córdova, Principal, Marchese Partners-Life3A New Zealand. ‘We bring international experience and a forward-thinking approach to our designs. Culture is also a quintessential component of what we do and what we have to offer.’

Point of difference resonates with the market

Marchese Partners was founded in Sydney in 1994. The firm co-branded as Marchese Partners-Life3A in 2021 to better reflect its success in retirement living and aged care projects. It now has studios in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, the United Kingdom and Asia.

As a global company, Marchese Partners-Life3A is familiar with the challenges of cultural diversity. ‘It’s important for us to embrace cultural diversity from the beginning of the journey for it to be meaningful and have positive and impactful outcomes,’ says Blanco de Córdova. ‘In New Zealand, being open-minded and collaborating with others are key.’

The company established an office on the North Island in Auckland about 8 years ago. It then opened an office in Christchurch, on the South Island, in 2016. This move was seen as an opportunity to be part of the city’s ongoing regeneration following the devastating earthquake of 2011. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the firm’s New Zealand operations were all transferred to Christchurch. It is now looking at reopening an Auckland office.

Marchese Partners-Life3A has seen steady growth in its New Zealand business. Recent projects include:

  • a luxury apartment complex in Auckland
  • a boutique retirement development in Christchurch
  • an innovative seniors’ community at Kaiapoi, north of Christchurch.

A global reputation for efficient, contemporary design is coupled with respect for the local environment and a commitment to sustainability. These factors resonate strongly and give the company ‘a point of difference’ in the New Zealand market, says Blanco de Córdova. 

Austrade smooths the journey through connections and support

Conveying the company’s ethos and connecting with like-minded clients ‘to come with us on the journey’ is a firm focus for Blanco de Córdova and the New Zealand team.

He says Austrade plays an important role in helping the business identify opportunities, make connections, understand the channels to market and deliver its message.

‘Austrade scans the local market for us, conducts workshops and connects us with potential clients,’ he says. ‘We meet and chat with Austrade regularly to discuss new strategies and ways to reach out to the market. It’s a very positive relationship and we value their support.’

Trade agreement opens up trans-Tasman opportunities

The bilateral trade and travel agreements between Australia and New Zealand have also been important in the company’s export journey. These include the Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement (CER Agreement) and the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Travel Arrangement. It is also the 40th anniversary of CER – one of the most unique and comprehensive bilateral free trade agreements in the world. The CER covers almost all trans-Tasman trade in goods and services.

‘These agreements have greatly assisted collaboration between teams. They also allow clients from Australia to invest in New Zealand,’ says Blanco de Córdova. ‘There are great people in Austrade willing to promote these agreements and help companies understand the opportunities available.’

Export makes up around 25% of Marchese Partners-Life3A’s business. Blanco de Córdova says the company has clear ambitions for its expansion in the New Zealand market. ‘We want to create an Australasian framework that will benefit both sides of the Tasman,’ he says. ‘There are valuable lessons to be learned from each country.’

A business world without boundaries

Blanco de Córdova’s advice to other like-minded companies is to reach out to Austrade to make connections and find ways to collaborate.

‘I would encourage companies not to be afraid to take this first step,’ he says. ‘Austrade has really helped us to increase our presence in New Zealand.’

Flexibility and a technology-driven approach have also been important factors in Marchese Partners-Life3A’s expansion success. ‘It is critical to understand that talent is not confined to boundaries anymore,’ says Blanco de Córdova.

‘In a post-COVID world, we’ve been able to adapt to market demands through technology and staying close to our clients’ expectations. Our clients are testimony to the great outcomes that can be achieved when they engage with a firm with a global perspective. It futureproofs their communities.’

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