Money & Banking

BIG W begins massive cull of 30 stores across Australia

BIG W begins massive cull of 30 stores across Australia

Auburn, Chullora and Fairfield will be the first three Big W stores of a massive 30 store cull to be shut down within the coming months.

As the retailer attempts to turn around a stunning $85 million loss at the hands of their savage competitors, Kmart and H&M, 90 staff in each store will be getting the ruthless end of the stick.

The closure process will put a $370 million dent in the company’s profit, and yet after a solid 10 months since announcing the “store review”, Big W’s owner, Woolworths Group, have yet to announce the remaining 27 branches that are yet to close.

Big W bigwigs insist the once mighty retailer still has a future and some trimming of the store network will help “to accelerate the path to profitability”.

The three doomed Sydney-based Big W stores will bring their shutters down for the final time on January 31.

A Big W spokeswoman told news.com.au it acknowledged “closing any store isn’t easy on our teams and communities”.

“The purpose of Big W’s store review, announced in April last year, is to build a strong, profitable and more sustainable store and distribution centre network that reflects our customers’ needs and the rapidly changing retail environment,” she said.

The spokeswoman said staff have been offered redeployment to other stories or Woolworths supermarkets.

Last year, Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said there was “no alternative” but to shut down a number of their stores. However, he stressed that closing the chain altogether was not on the cards.

Despite the major shutdown impending on Big W, there are positive signs for the retailer.

Its $85 million full-year loss in 2019 was an improvement on the $110 million loss in the previous year.

Sales were also up 4.2 per cent last year helped by clothing, online and click and collect.

“The closure of 16 per cent of the Big W network is unlikely to be the end of the store rationalisation profile,” the 2019 note said.

“Big W can confirm we are on track with our turnaround,” the store’s spokeswoman said.