HARDWARE giant Bunnings Warehouse has put a Colac store back on its agenda.
The Wesfarmers-owned company has announced plans to create 6000 jobs in the next three years as part of longstanding expansion plans, which could include Colac.
Bunnings plans to spend $1.5 billion building 85 new stores across Australia and New Zealand in what shapes as a move to ward off competition from hardware market newcomers Masters, which Lowes and Woolworths co-own.
Bunnings chief operating officer Peter Davis said Colac was an option for a new warehouse hardware store.
“Colac remains an area of interest for Bunnings,” Mr Davis said.
“We would consider opening a store there in the future if the right opportunity became available,” he said.
Bunnings had planned to spend $10 million to set up a shop in Colac nine years ago but it abandoned its bid after expensive land prices deterred company directors.
Lowes and Woolworths, which started Masters hardware stores as a joint venture, also own the marketing company for Colac’s Civic Home Hardware, which opened a new $5-million store last year.
Civic managing director Stephen Rippon said a Colac Bunnings store would affect his business along with “10 to 20 other” Colac businesses.
But he said Civic had put itself in a position to cope and co-exist with corporate competition.
“It would have an impact on a lot of businesses around town, not only hardware,” Mr Rippon said.
“You look at what they have – there’s not much they don’t do,” he said.
“We’ve modelled ourselves in the expectation that one day they will come here.
“We’ve put ourselves in a good position to ensure that when the competition does come to Colac that we are well set up.”
Mr Rippon said he was confident Colac people would continue to support Civic if a Bunnings arrived in the city.
“We’re offering now what these larger corporate stores would offer in regional towns,” he said.
“We’ve built this brand new store to give people that feel.”
Mr Rippon said “larger corporate” companies expanding to Colac was inevitable.
“Colac is becoming more on the map when you look at what’s happening with the highway, it’s becoming more accessible,” he said.
“So it certainly opens up that line of larger corporates coming to Colac – it could be electrical, it could be clothing, it could be anything.”
But Mr Rippon said Colac businesses were capable of supporting the city without a corporate invasion.
“I think that between all the businesses in Colac now we can adequately supply the town.”