South West Sydney
Is Bunnings big push into NSW the end of the local hardware shop?
Bunnings are opening 15 new warehouse stores and 3 additional stores in NSW over the next three years, at the cost of more than $600 million and the Premier was clearly impressed announcing that her Government is working with Bunnings ‘to ensure the development applications for the proposed sites are assessed efficiently.’ Wesfarmers, the owners of Bunnings also own Coles, Kmart, Target and Office Works, making them one of the most dominant retail groups in the world in terms of domestic market share.
“Almost anyone who has ever built, renovated or even moved home in recent years has probably made several trips to a Bunnings store,” Ms Keneally said. The Premier said that news of the Bunnings expansion would be ‘welcome news for NSW families and tradies alike.’
“Importantly, at least five of these sites will be located outside of the greater Sydney area, providing employment and economic stimulus to regional and rural economies,” said Ms Keneally.
The NSW Government new Project Delivery Managers within the Department of Planning, are working with Bunnings to make sure their development applications are dealt with ‘efficiently’ by other planning authorities. That’s a pretty handy piece of help though it’s unclear why a company as large as Bunnings (Wesfarmers) needs the help of the NSW Department of Planning to get its development applications through Council and Joint Regional Planning Panel processes. But it’s not help that any corporate, no matter how big, would be knocking back especially when taxpayers are paying for it. The NSW Government allocated $12 million in June last year to set up this “Project Delivery Branch” to make sure projects like Bunnings can ‘more smoothly navigate the planning system’ in NSW.
It’s all part of the Government’s focus on ‘fast tracking’ big development projects that first came in response to the threat of the GFC but with NSW’s unemployment rate tracking at 5%, below both Victoria’s and Queensland’s, people are starting to ask what the cost to communities will be if this “stimulus based” logic is applied at a time when economists are worried about inflation growth not recession.
It’s also doubtful that NSW’s small retailers will be as excited about the news of Bunnings super growth strategy as the Premier. No doubt many of them will tonight be wondering what their future holds if a Bunnings is coming to a suburb or town near them. Speaking today at the site of Bunnings new Alexandria store Managing Director, John Gillam, said the 18 store rollout in NSW was part of the company’s expansion strategy across the country.
“In NSW alone, we already have 77 operating sites, including 53 warehouse stores. We are particularly excited about the strength and complementary nature of the sites we have secured, which will enable us to accelerate our NSW opening program.” Mr Gillam said.
The 20,000m² Alexandria warehouse store is to be built on a 2.6 hectare site at Euston Road, Alexandria and will be Australia’s largest home improvement and outdoor living store. Since 2009, Bunnings has opened five new stores and two trade centres with warehouses at Armidale, Wagga Wagga, Narellan, Morisset, purchased an existing business at Cowra and opened trade centres in Tuggerah and Unanderra. This additional round of expansion includes; 3 new stores that are under construction now at Seven Hills (scheduled to open in October 2010), Port Stephens (December 2010) and Chatswood (February 2011); 12 Sites have been identified for new stores at Alexandria, Balgowlah, Batemans Bay, Castle Hill, West Gosford, Greenacre, Rouse Hill, Tamworth, Marsden Park, Wallsend, Smithfield, and East Gardens; and 3 further sites including an existing Lithgow business and plans for trade centres at St Peters and Cromer. Keneally, previously Minister for Planning before becoming Premier, believes that the big business approach to economic development is the right focus for NSW saying her Government ‘recognises the significant investment and economic benefits that multi-site commercial development programs deliver, particularly in rural and regional NSW’ and that they are investigating further changes to the planning system “allow for the efficient roll-out of programs such as that announced by Bunnings today”.
Are you as happy as the Premier with the announcement that Bunnings is rolling out 18 more stores across NSW? Do you have a local hardware shop in your suburb? Does it matter whether they survive or not? Or is this just the 'survival of the fittest'? Share your views with the community here..