Big W closures: Central West future of stores is uncertain

STORES TO CLOSE: It has not yet been revealed which Big W stores could be affected. Photo: FILE
STORES TO CLOSE: It has not yet been revealed which Big W stores could be affected. Photo: FILE

THE future of Big W stores in the Central West is uncertain after the parent company of the poor-performing retailer announced 30 stores would be closed during the next three years.

Woolworths Group announced on Monday that the closures come following an extensive review into the retail chain and expected losses of $80-$100 million this financial year.

There are six Big W stores across the Central West including: Bathurst, Dubbo, Mudgee, Orange, Parkes and Young.

A spokesperson for Woolworths admitted not identifying the locations of the soon-to-be-closed stores had created "uncertainty".

"We understand the announcement, without confirmation of specific stores, will create some uncertainty for our teams and the communities in which we operate, particularly in regional areas," he said.

We understand the announcement, without confirmation of specific stores, will create some uncertainty for our teams and the communities in which we operate, particularly in regional areas.

Woolworths Group spokesperson

"We will inform our team members, customers and community stakeholders well in advance of changes to any specific store."

The spokesperson said the locations would not be named at this stage due to "ongoing discussions with landlords" however they would continue to trade as normal in the interim.

Australian Community Media has sought comment from Big W stores, or the shopping centre in which they are located, across the Central West.

Bathurst

Stockland Bathurst centre manager Sandy Matthews said the Bathurst Big W outlet had a lease in the centre until 2034.

"We haven't heard anything at centre level. We haven't had any notification from Big W," she said.

"It's business as usual for us at this stage."

Orange

Orange City Centre's manager Nicole Chapman said there were no indications the mall's shop would be among those to get the chop.

"Big W Orange is a profitable store and has a long lease on foot at the Orange City Centre," she said.

"The Centre has not received any formal notice in regards to a potential closure and we are confident Big W will have a long future in our Centre."

Dubbo

Orana Mall centre manager James Wall said that while he had received no indication from Big W on the future of this store, he was hopeful it had a positive future.

"They're one of the most profitable stores in the company. They trade very well here," he said.

"I don't see it happening [the store's closure in Dubbo]."

Mr Wall said Big W has traded for many years in the Orana Mall and was on a long term lease.

Mudgee, Parkes, Young

The Big W store manager in each of these locations said they were unable to comment on any potential closure.

Woolworths Group's statement

Data provided by the Woolworths Group said that Big W was expected to report a loss before interest and tax in the 2018/19 financial year of $80-$100 million.

The chain's loss during 2017/18 was $110 million.

The spokesperson said the decision to close any stores was not taken lightly.

"We regret the impact this will have on affected team members," they said.

"The majority of our store network is set to remain open and we're committed to doing the right thing for our team in impacted stores.

"We will inform our team members, customers and community stakeholders well in advance of changes to any specific store."

The spokesperson said the review was undertaken to help Big W maintain a "strong and profitable store network where all stores can make a strong contribution to Big W's profit over the longer term".

"We want to emphasise this review has never been focused solely on our regional stores but our entire network.

"Potential store closures represent approximately 16 per cent of the current store network with a remaining average lease tenure of approximately 10 years."

In the interim all BIG W stores will continue to trade as normal.