- The North Buderim IGA has closed after being unable to compete with a Coles complex
- Staff have found other jobs, but there are fears the closure will impact the remaining nine stores in the complex
- Centre management is confident of finding a tenant to fill the void
A battle between supermarkets has been playing out on the Sunshine Coast for 15 years, but the fight ended this afternoon as the registers fell silent and the North Buderim IGA closed its doors for good.
“It’s a very sad day for us and for our staff,” IGA Cornetts chief executive Graham Booysen said.
“It was a great local business until the Coles opened, and obviously that’s taken away half of our business and it just hasn’t become viable to keep the store open.”
Mr Booysen said his 13 staff members had been lucky to find other jobs, but he felt for local suppliers and the remaining nine shops in the complex.
“I hope those customers stay loyal and keep shopping with them, they are small family businesses,” he said.
“A lot of guys come to us or then go and sit and have a coffee or go to the independent butchery there and buy their stuff.”
Developers first set eyes on the prime parcel of land across the road from the IGA in 2007.
The then-Maroochy Shire Council knocked back an application to build a centre that would have included a Woolworths and an Aldi supermarket.
In 2016, the amalgamated Sunshine Coast Council also refused a development application after receiving almost 1,200 objections.
But the Planning and Environment Court ruled in favour of the developer, and the nearly 5,000 square metre Coles complex opened in 2020.
Cornetts Supermarkets, which owns 35 stores nationally, took over the IGA in 2018.
Mr Booysen said they bought the store with the knowledge they would have to compete with Coles, which in comparison owns more than 2,500 retail outlets across Australia.
“I think everybody’s got the right to grow … but it’s sad for the small independent retailers,” he said.
“I think customers deserve a third option to the two big guys and these type of little businesses need to be protected.”
Coles was contacted for comment but did not provide a response.
Down but not out
While the supermarket battle is over, remaining shop owners are determined not to become collateral damage.
Nail salon owner Tyler Richards said foot traffic from the IGA made up about a quarter of his customer base.
“I would say the foot traffic will decline dramatically … but we’re pretty confident that we can stand our ground,” Mr Richards said.
For butcher Jason Armstrong, the closure could even work in his favour.
When the IGA shut temporarily in 2018, Mr Armstrong’s shop got busier.
“The convenience left and the consumer had to go back to actual butchers, which was a good thing,” he said.
The centre’s owner said several parties had already expressed interest in the now-vacant premises.
The shopping complex has been in Dale Massie’s family since it opened in 1989.
“We’re confident of refilling the site relatively soon with somebody who perhaps is not going to be operating a supermarket, but we’ll have something still interesting and of value to the local area,” Mr Massie said.
“We’ve tried our absolute best to provide for the local residents … for those people who objected to that development in the first place … to supply them with high-quality alternatives.”
Extracted from ABC News