BIG W HQ announces verdict on Emerald store
ONE of the biggest retail stores in Emerald has confirmed it will remain open, despite circulating rumours of its closure.
In April last year, Woolworths Group announced the intention to close up to 30 BIG W stores and two distribution centres over the next three years, following a network review.
The retail giant closed three stores in western Sydney this month, in Chullora, Auburn and Fairfield, after reaching an agreement with landlords in July last year.
After a list of the 30 regional and rural stores across the country circulated online, there was fear that the Emerald store would be one of many to be culled.
However, a BIG W spokeswoman told Central Queensland News the list was incorrect and not released by their team.
“BIG W have made no further store closure announcements to date,” she said.
In a statement, Woolworths Group said the review was undertaken to help BIG W maintain a strong and profitable store network where all stores could make a strong contribution to BIG W’s profit over the longer term.
“We recognise that closing any store isn’t easy on our teams and communities, however we have made every effort to support our team and do the right thing over this challenging time,” a BIG W spokeswoman said.
“As with all store closures, we offer redeployment to our team members who choose to continue their career with BIG W, or with other Woolworths Group brands where possible.”
Emerald Chamber of Commerce President Victor Cominos said many of the shops in Emerald, particularly Harvey Norman and those in Central Highlands Marketplace, attracted out-of-town shoppers.
“We can’t afford to lose BIG W because it’s a drawcard, it’s an attraction, it brings people to town,” he said.
“I’ve met people from Blackall who visit Emerald once a month to do their shopping.
“If we didn’t have the likes of Big W here, the job opportunities wouldn’t exist – and there’s a hell of a lot of people working there – and we will also lose the attraction that brings people from as far as Longreach.”
Mr Cominos recalled seeing the person who ran the Longreach picture theatre at BIG W, who weas in Emerald to buy confectionary for a big screening they were holding.
“If he stayed overnight he would’ve stayed in a hotel, he would’ve had to eat somewhere, fuel his car up, all because of BIG W – it’s a spin-off,” Mr Cominos said.
“The closure of the likes of Big W would be disastrous.”
Although BIG W have not yet confirmed which stores would close next, if any, they have assured shoppers they are making a comeback.
“BIG W can confirm we are on track with our turnaround,” a spokeswoman said.