Bakery rises to challenge in Warrnambool's testing retail climate

SEVERAL new businesses are on course to set up shop in Warrnambool’s CBD following a tough 2013 for high street retailers.

A bakery opened last week in Koroit Street, while a new takeaway food outlet in Liebig Street will open for business next month.

Baker Nick Brown is following in the retailing footsteps of his father Stan, who operated a furniture shop in Fairy Street for many years.

His business, Brown’s Depot Bakery, opened its doors less than a fortnight ago and its owner has already witnessed a steady stream of customers.

“Warrnambool has plenty of bread shops and cafes specialising in pastries but we wanted to open a business that was an all-round bakery,” Mr Brown said.

“We opened right at the start of the heatwave, which isn’t much fun when you’re running a bakery. But the feedback we’ve received from customers has been great.”

Mr Brown acknowledged the financial risks of establishing a small business, especially when consumer confidence was tepid at best.

He said high rents were a decisive factor in keeping some shopfronts empty.

“Of course it’s a risk and to be honest, Liebig Street has been going through a tough time,” Mr Brown said.

“But some of that is due to high rents asked by some landlords. Sometimes you have to cut your asking price and that will allow new businesses to find their feet, which is a better option than just leaving shops empty.”     

Brian O’Halloran Real Estate agent Brian Hancock said retail conditions were showing signs of improvement after a lacklustre 2013.

He said shoppers had become more assertive as the national economy began to pick up.

“There’s quite a few businesspeople on the lookout for shopfronts, quite different to what it was six or 12 months ago,” Mr Hancock said.

“The new bakery is a great example of that. There’s a tearooms and takeaway business that is looking to open within the next few weeks in the old Barry’s Chicken Products store.”

Both Mr Brown and Mr Hancock said Warrnambool’s main streets were resilient enough to withstand waxing and waning consumer behaviour.

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