Supermarket Lotto plan gambles with newsagencies' futures
WOLLONGBAR newsagent Dan Wickham says he is facing the prospect of bankruptcy if supermarkets and retailers are allowed to sell lotto tickets and scratchies.
"If we lost the lotteries, that's 60% of our profits and we'd have to close up shop. It would devastate our business," Mr Wickham said.
Mr Wickham's Wollongbar Xpress newsagency is among hundreds facing an uncertain future as a five-year moratorium preventing Coles, Woolworths and other supermarkets and retailers from selling lotto products draws to a close.
The moratorium, put in place when NSW Lotteries was privatised and sold to the Tatts Group in 2010, is due to end following the March 2015 election.
The Tatts Group has been reported this week to have had preliminary talks with larger retailers over lottery sales and this follows a trial of lottery tickets in Victoria at Coles Express stores.
"We have a decline in newspaper and magazine sales; we're battling Officeworks for stationery sales and, if (lotteries) goes pear-shaped, I don't know what will happen to us."
Buying his newsagency only 16 months ago after previously working in the hotel industry, Mr Wickham still has four years left on his shop lease.
"I may be looking at bankruptcy," he said."I am only 41, so I could start again, but many newsagency owners are older. There could be suicides if this happens."
The Newsagents Association of NSW & ACT has started a road trip this week to discuss the lotteries threat with its members and is due to arrive in Ballina on December 1.
Dan Wickham says he will be attending the meeting and proposing Northern Rivers agents stage a protest against Tatts by not selling lotto tickets in the week leading up to the New Year Super Draw.
"We need a definitive answer from Tatts. And if it does happen, newsagents need to be compensated."
The Newsagents Association has started a petition that it will be presented to NSW Parliament. The petiton reads:
"The Agency Protection Period will expire on 1 April 2015 at which point the protections for existing lotteries agents will cease.
"This is likely to have long-lasting and devastating consequences not only for the existing agencies, but also for the broader local small business community.
"We the undersigned call upon the NSW Government to indefinitely extend the Agency Protection Period and enshrine the protective measure to support the viability of key community small businesses."