White knights rescue local store
FARMER Charlies in Ballina will re-open with three local blokes at the helm.
Graeme Gough, of West Ballina, and Paul Morris and Shon Trim, both of Alstonville, are getting ready to bring the store back to life as a Spar supermarket.
But, while the transition into a full Spar outlet will take six months, an immediate and more minor refurbishment will see the grocery outlet open its doors to the public in around a fortnight.
“What we are bringing to the business is local knowledge,” said Mr Trim, who has a corporate background with Caltex and operates three service stations in Alstonville, Lismore and Woodburn.
Mr Gough was a previous owner of fuel distribution and retailing company Northern Marketing and Mr Morris is a chartered accountant.
The three men are the owners of local company Quaymarket Pty Limited and, according to Mr Gough, have been looking for an opportunity to get involved in a local supermarket business for some time.
“When Farmer Charlies went into administration, we started working on acquiring the Ballina store.”
The iconic Northern Rivers grocery chain, which had outlets in Lismore, Ballina and Evans Head, closed at the end of May.
Little more than a year before, it had been saved from liquidation when Sydney company Barrobay Investments bought it.
Since then, the Lismore store has been bought by the Edmonds family, who owned it originally.
The Evans Head store remains closed.
However, Mr Gough said he and his partners were “exploring options” with the administrators, PPB, about the Evans Head outlet.
Recruiting for the Ballina store has already begun, with the goal of employing 25 permanent and part-time staff.
While some of these may include former employees of Farmer Charlies, Mr Gough said some of the staff had moved on.
Managing director of Spar supermarkets Lou Jardin said the Ballina outlet would offer “a full shop at competitive prices” and longer opening hours.
Mr Gough said there would be a more extensive range of groceries as well as the fruit and vegetables that had been traditionally stocked at the store. Where possible, he said, the new owners would source goods from local suppliers.