Shock at supermarket closure
LISA Pearson, of Byron Bay, found out she had lost her job at the SPAR supermarket in Byron Bay on the social networking site Facebook.
“One of the girls who was working at the supermarket last Thursday night, when they announced the closure, sent me a message on Facebook,” she said.
“Half the staff is coming in this morning (Friday) and finding out they don’t have a job.”
Lisa is one of 28 staff who will now be looking for work after the supermarket, which has only been opened for seven months, closed its doors last Sunday.
SPAR is the latest victim of a dramatic retail downturn in Byron Bay as recently reported by the Byron News.
Mrs Pearson said one worker from Lismore had found out about his job loss when he turned up for work on Friday.
She said he immediately drove back home.
“And now heaps of customers are coming in to the supermarket because everything is 30 per cent off,” Mrs Pearson said as she stoically continued to serve customers.
“If they had done that before we wouldn’t have to close.”
Management at the Byron Bay store were remaining tight-lipped about the closure, but shoppers had a mixture of emotions.
“It is terrible, shocking,” said Rosana Davenport, a sales rep who considers Byron Bay her favourite place to shop.
“It was only brand-new and exactly what this place needed.
“Everyone has to eat but they (SPAR) just don’t seem to be getting the people in.”
Some local residents weren’t so shocked at the news the supermarket was closing down.
“I don’t shop there because I’ve been told their prices are double what Woolies or IGA are,” Linda Gately, of Federal, said.
“So it’s no surprise they are closing.”
One Byron Bay local who didn’t want to be named wasn’t surprised at the closure.
“A lot of locals don’t shop there as we can’t afford it,” she said.
“I think they opened for the backpackers, although I do go there for the specials.”
President of Byron United Ed Ahern said the supermarket closure was tragic.
“This will have a huge impact on the town and it’s tragic for the people who have lost their jobs,” he said.
“The supermarket pie in Byron Bay has shrunk to the point where it was unviable for SPAR to continue trading.
“There’s just too much competition in such a small community.”
Byron Mayor Cr Jan Barham said she was shocked to hear the supermarket was closing.
“I thought the supermarket was a much-needed business in Byron Bay and provided real competition in the town,” she said.
“I am really surprised, but obviously SPAR is responding to the tough times.
“It’s very sad that now a lot of people have lost their jobs.”
Cr Barham said the supermarket would be a huge space to fill.
SPAR Australia’s chief executive, Leigh Carson, said SPAR Australia had reluctantly closed its Byron Bay outlet due to difficult trading conditions and a decline in the tourism trade.
He said the economic downturn and subsequent decline in tourism in the region had left the company with no choice but to close the store.
“After trading for seven months, this is extremely disappointing, particularly for the staff who have worked tirelessly to make the store a success,” Mr Carson said.
“But in a region that relies heavily on the tourism trade, the last seven months have been extremely challenging.
“The team at SPAR Byron Bay performed exceptionally well to provide customers with an outstanding retail offer, despite very difficult circumstances.”
Mr Carson said that while the Byron Bay store would close, SPAR still had a very strong presence in the region with stores in Suffolk Park, Lismore, Murwillumbah and Pottsville.
“These stores are all independently owned, doing well and providing an outstanding service to their local communities. They are not impacted by the Byron Bay closure in any way,” Mr Carson said.