Tough times in CBD: Woolies says goodbye Ipswich
THE last major tenant of the Ipswich CBD has pulled the plug.
For years there has been talk about Woolworths in the mall closing down - now the supermarket giant has confirmed the rumour mill sometimes gets it right.
The CBD store's last day of trading will be January 1, 2017.
The closure plans were revealed by Woolworths management yesterday during a meeting with the staff, many of whom were shocked by the news.
One worker, who asked not to be named, said the staff were given no indication the store would be closing ahead of the meeting.
It's the same story from workers in surrounding businesses, who said they had expressed growing concerns with Woolworths managers and had repeatedly been told the plans would be shared "in due course".
The remaining, and already struggling, businesses face six months of uncertainty between now and the demolition date for the CBD redevelopment.
Woolworths won't be re-opening after the revamp and a company spokesperson said the staff would be absorbed into other nearby stores.
"We are working closely with all our team members at this time," a spokesperson said.
"We will redeploy our CBD staff to other stores in the area, meaning all staff will continue to be employed within the Woolworths Group.
"Woolworths will continue to serve our loyal customers at our three other sites in Ipswich including Brassall, Karalee and Yamanto."
While the news has left a few councillors feeling "disappointed", there were signs the anchor tenant would likely be leaving the building.
In July Woolworths announced a plan to turn around their business, dragged down by the Masters Hardware failure.
That plan included closing 17 "underperforming" stores across the country within a year.
It's a significant blow for the remaining shop owners, just months after Lowes shut their doors because shoppers like Chris Woollett (pictured) have even less reason to visit the city centre.
Mr Woollett lives on Milford St and uses the supermarket about once a fortnight.
"There's nothing in the mall anymore," Mr Woollett said.
"I do other shopping at Riverlink anyway so I will just have to go over there instead for my groceries."
Mayor Paul Pisasale met with Woolworths executives yesterday ahead of the meeting with staff and said he very clearly expressed his disappointment the company couldn't have waited another six months.
"This won't hinder our progress and it is full steam ahead for the redevelopment, " Cr Pisasale said.