Competitor buys stores

THE severity of financial woes faced by the Dahlsens hardware store chain have become clearer this week, after a Tuesday announcement two Gippsland branches had been brought out by competitor Bunnings.

The takeovers, which will see the Bunnings Warehouse banner over Dahlsens’ Warragul branch on 9 February, and its Sale branch on 16 February, come after the company announced in December it was shedding 17 jobs at its Traralgon branch by the end of January.

“This (latest) announcement marks a big turning point for Dahlsens and it will be very sad to no longer have these stores as part of our group,” sales and marketing manager Fabrice Boucherat said in a press release.

Only weeks earlier to Tuesday’s announcement, Mr Boucherat told The Express despite Traralgon’s restructure, Dahlsens’ network of branches were in a healthy trading position and would be operating as per usual.

However, on Tuesday Mr Boucherat could not detail whether any further branches would be closed or were under review.

Traralgon is currently undergoing a major downscale of its retail operations, after poor sales performance in its lifestyle range, after which it will focus solely on its trade business.

Traralgon branch manager Craig Adams said the affected staff would be finishing their employment with the company on 25 January.

“At that point those staff will get their full entitlements; and we’ve managed to help four of our staff find work elsewhere,” Mr Adams said.

“It’s been a difficult time for everyone in our business; a lot of people have put a lot of time and energy into this business over the years.

“Those staff have been fantastic helping us set up the new store, I just can’t speak highly enough of them, you couldn’t ask for a better bunch of people.”

Dahlsens Traralgon has employed about 30 full time equivalent staff since the store relocated to its current Princes Highway site five years ago, however the business has been unable to win market share for its lifestyle products from other outlets, particularly the Bunnings Morwell store.