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South supermarket's future

Friday, 15th March, 2013

By Andrew Robertson

Broken Hill's two independent grocers have ruled out opening a supermarket in the South when Coles moves out next year.

Coles has said it will shut its Patton Street supermarket when a new shopping centre it is building on the former Globe Timber site opens.

The shopping centre, which will house a larger Coles supermarket along with a Target store and specialty shops, was to have been completed last year.

But problems including the removal of hard rock has delayed the development which is now slated to open mid next year.

Owners of the city's three IGA stores yesterday said they would not fill the void left by Coles - but they both believe a South store could be viable.

Mick Schinella, who operates two IGA stores, said that a South store could do well given there would be nowhere to buy basic items such as meat and vegetables when Coles left.

"I think it would be reasonably viable to have a place out there. I think you'd get reasonably good support if you did the right thing," he said.

That would still be the case even with a larger Coles store operating in direct competition with Woolworths.

"It's a package that you have to put together and hopefully people will support you," Mr Schinella said.

"If you've got six or seven thousand out there and you could capture sixty to seventy per cent of the population..."

Mr Schinella knows what it takes to give customers want they want. Three years ago he purchased his second IGA store in Williams Street and only now is it thriving.

"We've tried extremely hard and it's paid off."

He said he wasn't ready to take on a third store.

"Not at this stage."

A co-owner of the Foodland IGA store in Beryl Street also said a store could be viable in the South, albeit a smaller one than the Coles.

But Debbie McLachlan said there were hurdles associated with setting up shop in the South, particularly the availability of suitable land.

She said it could be up to two years before Coles' building came up for sale, and even when it did the price would likely be very high.

Apart from the Coles site there were no other blocks of land large enough to cater for an even modest-sized supermarket and car park.

"There's nowhere out there big enough," she said.

"We've had a look at it and at this stage it's too hard."

South resident and former councillor Alan Tucker doubts another operator will move in, and if they did they would struggle against the might of Coles and Woolworths.

"It's so hard to compete against the two majors," he said.

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