SPAR at Byron Bay closes its doors
STAFF at Byron Bay’s SPAR supermarket will lose their jobs tomorrow after the multinational grocery chain announced it would close the store.
The closure does not affect the operation of independently-owned SPAR-branded stores at Suffolk Park, Lismore, Murwillumbah and Pottsville, and comes after Byron traders said they were struggling with a radical drop in business.
Staff were told on Thursday night about the closure, with others finding out when they arrived for work yesterday morning.
The company yesterday declined to say how many people worked at the shop, but unconfirmed reports put the figure at about 30.
Employee Lisa Pearson said she found out on the social networking site Facebook from another worker.
“Half the staff is coming in this morning and finding out they don’t have a job,” she said.
Ironically, the news was also followed by a surge in business as customers flocked to the supermarket to take advantage of low prices as it tried to clear out stock.
“Everyone is coming in because everything is 30 per cent off,” Ms Pearson said as she continued to serve customers.
“If they had done that before we wouldn’t have to close.”
In a statement SPAR Australia chief executive Leigh Carson blamed low tourist numbers and the broader economic downturn for the closure.
“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.”
Byron United president EdAhern, who was also competing with the supermarket, said SPAR had put a lot of work into setting up the shop and it was an ‘absolute tragedy’ it had closed.
Mr Ahern said Byron Bay’s business community was struggling through its hardest winter season in 20 years, without the off-season boost from the Splendour in the Grass festival.
“It’s very sad for the employees. It’s an absolute tragedy they have lost their jobs,” he said.
Publican Tom Mooney, who isalso the supermarket’s landlord,also blamed the downturn for the closure.