By Keri Algar

SYDNEY, NSW: Appliance retailers in Christchurch expect repairs will take months after a massive earthquake caused widespread damage to over 500 buildings.

The 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit the city at 4.35 am on Saturday, demolishing buildlings and stock.

Gary Early, the owner of Kitchen Things in Christchurch said the damage to the showroom and adjacent warehouse was serious but repairable.

“We’ve got two side walls that have fallen over and fallen out, so we’ve got structural damage that hasn’t yet been cleared by an engineer; so we’re not open for trading,” said Early to this morning.

“There’s been a lot of damage to stock, probably about $120,000 worth, from the showroom and in the warehouse.”

“At the moment we’re clearing up the carnage that the quake left in its wake.”

“We’re waiting for a structural engineer to come and check the damage. They are pretty in demand at the moment with over 500 buildings being affected.”

“It’ll take months to repair the building. We hope to begin trading by the end of the week, though it will depend on the engineer’s report.”

“We’ve got a brick showroom and warehouse that’s close to 100-years-old. Buildings of a similar age to ours suffered the most damage in the city.”

Kitchen Things is a nationwide retailer that specialises in kitchen and laundry appliances, including Smeg and Bosch.

Smiths City, a nationwide furniture and appliance retail chain suffered less damage.

Ian Gardener, office manager of the Riccarton store in Christchurch said the damage “was not so bad”.

“We had a few items fall off shelves, like printers, but all the TVs and whiteware was intact, which is quite lucky,” said Gardner.

“The city centre store didn’t go too badly. They’ve been closed for the last two days because the whole city centre was closed off, but they are open today.”

The earthquake has caused an estimated $2 billion worth of damage.