FRANTIC lobbying has saved the jobs of 23 workers and reversed a closure decision for Warrnambool discount store Sam’s Warehouse, which had been scheduled to shut in two weeks.
A renewed lease has been secured to keep the store open at Bayside City Plaza rather than having it close on November 23 as ordered by administrators for the troubled Retail Adventures empire.
Plaza manager David Turner yesterday described the decision as a miracle.
“It’s the best retail news I’ve heard in Warrnambool for a long time,” he said.
“The plaza owners and I weren’t prepared to accept the closure decision so we went directly to the holding company appointed by administrators to challenge the decision.
“After several days of negotiations we’ve been able to come up with a package that means the store will be kept open and 23 jobs saved.
“To lose Sam’s Warehouse permanently would have been a major blow to our plaza and to Warrnambool’s A-grade retail reputation.”
Mr Turner said the warehouse staff and other plaza operators who were worried about a knock-on effect were overjoyed by the news.
Plaza owner company spokesman Owen Lennie of Heatan Pty Ltd said the Warrnambool store had unfortunately been caught up in the initial swoop by administrators last month.
“I was always confident the Warrnambool store was strong enough to be in the A-list and retained,” Mr Lennie said.
“This decision demonstrates the strength of Warrnambool as a retail centre with Sam’s pulling clientele from well outside the city.
“It’s a great outcome for Warrnambool, especially the staff.”
Sam’s, with a store area of 2400 square metres, has traded at the plaza since September 2008.
Retail Adventures went into voluntary administration two weeks ago with 238 stores and about 5000 full-time staff.
Many of its remaining Chickenfeed stores, including Hamilton and Portland, will be rebranded as Crazy Clark’s stores.
Only three years ago entrepreneur Jan Cameron bought Retail Adventures for $85 million.
The Business Spectator yesterday reported the first creditors’ meeting had secured a licensing agreement with DSG Holdings to allow 236 Crazy Clark’s and Sam’s Warehouse branded stores to continue operations.
“DSG has provided funding to the administrators to maintain service suppliers and rental payments to landlords,” administrator Deloitte said.
“Some $7.3 million has already been provided and relevant purchase orders are now being issued.”