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Supermarket owner takes fight for survival to Parliament

Bruce and Sue Luchterhand of SPAR supermarket, Alexandra Headland, are losing out because of trading hours changes that allow Coles, Woolworths and ALDI to open early and close late.
Bruce and Sue Luchterhand of SPAR supermarket, Alexandra Headland, are losing out because of trading hours changes that allow Coles, Woolworths and ALDI to open early and close late. Patrick Woods

BRUCE Luchterhand bought the SPAR Alexandra Headland supermarket eight months ago but extended trading hours of big supermarkets have already smashed his weekend profits.

Since December 1, major supermarkets in south-east Queensland have been allowed to trade from 7am-9pm on Saturdays instead of 8am-5.30pm.

A former Coles employee, Mr Luchterhand is now passionate about local employment and helping independent supermarkets survive.

"I was with Coles for 34 years - the additional hours they got they wouldn't have employed one more person," he said.

"They open longer, they tweak the rosters - there's no new employment, but independents suffer."

A Coles spokesperson refuted the claim, saying 95 jobs had been created on the Coast since December 1 last year, in addition to those created as part of new store openings and "renewals".

A Woolworths spokesperson said "a positive impact on employment opportunities in the future" was expected from the change, while ALDI spokesperson did not respond directly to questions on the impact of extended trading hours on local employment.

Mr Luchterhand said his business has lost 20% of weekend trade and he's had to cut dozens of hours of paid work from the staff roster.

"I replaced 50-60 hours with myself and my wife doing a few more hours," he said. "I don't complain about that - it just means less jobs for locals."

Mr Luchterhand was able save on wage costs without sacking anyone, as two employees moved on, but is worried that if big supermarkets are allowed to continue trading from early in the morning to late at night, job cuts will have to follow.

The Food Store (formerly Night Owl) on Aerodrome Rd closed last month and some IGAs are also understood to be suffering.

That's why he will appear before a parliamentary committee on allowable trading hours in Brisbane next Wednesday.

"My wife worries sick about what's going to happen - is there going to be further inroads for the big guys and we become dinosaurs?" he said.

The hearing is at Queensland Parliament from 9am-3pm.

For information visit parliament.qld.gov.au

Topics:  business coles independent supermarket


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