WARRNAMBOOL’S central business district has received an endorsement from the La Porchetta restaurant chain, which plans to re-establish a franchise in the city centre.
A spokeswoman for La Porchetta said it had a CBD site in mind and was seeking a franchisee.
La Porchetta was keen to re-establish a franchise in the CBD because it was a vibrant commercial area, the spokeswoman said.
The endorsement comes amid concern about the number of vacant commercial premises in Warrnambool’s CBD.
Brian O’Halloran and Co real estate agent Brian Hancock said the number of vacant commercial premises in the CBD was presently about 25 per cent up on the number a year ago.
Mr Hancock said online shopping would make permanent changes to the way businesses marketed their goods and services but he predicted the CBD would bounce back from the high vacancy rate.
He said he had seen the Warrnambool CBD’s fortunes ebb and flow during his 30 years in the industry and predicted the empty premises would soon have tenants.
Many of the vacant shops were already receiving interest from prospective tenants, Mr Hancock said.
“I would not say it is a real decline,” he said of the CBD’s future.
“It is an adjustment of people’s thinking to the way they do business now.”
The continuing establishment of shopping centres in Warrnambool’s outlying suburbs was also having an impact on the CBD, he said.
Shoe retailers in Warrnambool have been among those adversely affected by changes in the retail industry.
The SSW Shoe Warehouse in Koroit Street closed in May following financial problems and the Payless Shoes store at Gateway Plaza was among the 230 stores throughout Australia placed in voluntary administration this month because of the chain’s rising debts.
The Payless Shoes store at Gateway Plaza is continuing to operate while a buyer is sought for the stores.
Chris Jubb, from the long-time Warrnambool shoe retailer Rauert’s Shoes in Fairy Street, said the shoe stores in financial difficulty were those selling discount price shoes.
“The ones that offer quality are staying in business,” Mr Jubb said.
“Discount shoes cannot compete with the prices on the internet.
“You have got to offer service and quality.”
Tania McConnell, the manager of Faull’s Shoes in Liebig Street, told a similar story.
“People come here for quality shoes and for good customer service,” Ms McConnell said.
“Business has been good.”