Mid Valley Coles to go

Retailing giant Coles has revealed it will close its Mid Valley store in August, less than a week after Target announced it would leave the shopping centre.

Coles told The Express in a statement that all 57 staff members would keep their jobs but did not provide a reason for the closure.

“We are currently undertaking the refurbishment of our Morwell [George Street] store to enhance our offer to local customers and the Mid Valley store will remain open until the refurbishment is complete,” a Coles spokeswoman said.

“All 57 team members who work at the Mid Valley store will be able to keep their job at Coles and transfer to a Coles supermarket that’s convenient to them.

“We thank customers for their loyalty to our Coles Mid Valley supermarket and want to assure the local community that we are committed to offering great quality, service and value at our Morwell [George Street], Traralgon, Warragul, Moe and Drouin stores nearby.”

The Express contacted Mid Valley centre management, however the spokesperson was unavailable for comment.

It comes after major Mid Valley retailer Target last week revealed it would close its doors in June due to the store’s lease expiring, which will result in up to 40 job losses.

Target and Coles both have large sites on Mid Valley’s south side and together occupy about a third of the centre’s space.

The announcements come almost a year after Hazelwood powered down, which cost about 700 jobs.

It also follows the closure of Carter Holt Harvey’s Morwell sawmill in September last year.

Originally opened as a Bi-Lo, the store was rebranded as a Coles supermarket in 2007.

Committee for Gippsland chief executive Mary Aldred said the closure announcement was “really disappointing” following the announcement of Target’s impending closure.

“It is a tough business climate across the board at the moment. We recognise that retail in particular is the canary in the cage when getting a broader feel for economic and business issues in the region,” Ms Aldred said.

“Retail is very important particularly in regional areas given [the] flexibility in hours, it is a good start for young people getting their first job, but also working parents who may be juggling a number of responsibilities and it is a very large employment sector in Gippsland.”

Ms Aldred said there were a range of broader factors contributing to the “tough business climate” in the Latrobe Valley for retail stores.

“Talking to businesses, certainly they are feeling the pressure around issues like electricity prices… those challenges are factored in,” she said.

“I think we’ve had a number of challenges in the dairy sector, with Hazelwood closing, and other things that happening where if you do cut someone’s income because of one of those things or several of those things it impacts on their spending.

“And that has flow on effects through the whole economy.”