Some residents fear the new Casuarina Coles could be a small business killer.
Some residents fear the new Casuarina Coles could be a small business killer. John Gass

Small operators fear Coles kills trade

A RETIRED businessman with more than 45 years experience fears Casuarina Coles will kill trade at Pottsville's shops.

Bruce Miller retired 18 months ago, after owning various cafes in places like Sunnyside Murwillumbah.

He said that based on his experience major shopping market chains suffocate small businesses using aggressive pricing strategies and by wielding power over co-tenant agreements.

The first sod on the new Casuarina retail precinct to be anchored by Coles was turned last week.

It is expected the new stores will be trading by March next year.

"The big centres are very ruthless," Mr Miller said.

"At Tweed City I looked at owning where the butcher is now, opposite Woolworths, and they said they had to run it by Woolworths because it was written in the contract any shop in his vision, they can say no to."

"When I had a shop at Cabarita and Woolworths came, the people who had the same stuff as the Woolies - like bakeries and butchers - they all suffered."

Brent Hayward, of Bogangar Newsagency and Licensed Post Office, shares Mr Miller's concerns about the new Coles.

"All these major shopping centres affect all small businesses, like news agencies, big-time," Mr Hayward said.

"They will try to take over every little business, and if the government lets it happen, every town will just have one Woolies or one Coles.

"What they do is they just take over, price cut until it dries the little fella out, then they jack the prices up so they're not competition for them."

But Small Business Association CEO Anne Nalder said small business owners needed to "innovate" and "upskill" to compete against the chains.

"Big business and supermarkets are a fact of life and you can't regulate against them," Mrs Nalder said.

"Small business owners have to change and be more innovative; find their niche markets, and do things that the larger markets don't or can't do."

"Worried shop keepers should prepare themselves for the future, upskill their business skills and start thinking globally.

"Breaking up the duopoly is not going to happen."



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