Supermarket support shelved

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Lechelle Earl, owner/editor

Supermarket support shelved

AMount Gambier store has been stripped of its branding following months of speculation about its future.

Foodland has confirmed it is no longer associated with the store at Mount Gambier Central prompting speculation by community members it was due to stocking expired goods and keeping shelves bare.

The former Foodland will be re-branded as Karts & Krafts, reverting to its previous name associated with the supermarket.

Karts & Krafts owner Ben Sethia said the Mount Gambier store has been removed from the Foodland network due to a lack of sales.

“What is going around in the town and what people are saying, thinking and putting out there is just not correct,” he said.

“When Foodland came last time they came with the intention to pull the banner because they said that we need to stock the full catalogue and we were not.

“Those people just want sales because then they can sell more stock to us too and we need sales so that we can sustain the expenses of the store.

“It was because they were not getting as much stock ordered as perhaps the other stores which we could not do because if we were doing more stock orders we were landing up with more expired stuff because people come there and treat it as a convenience store.

“It was probably 5% of people who came and did a full shop and that was the case before and even now, our average spend of a person was around $5-10.

“We cannot sustain a store like this so everybody started complaining about stock, but then if we bring more stock we end up with expired (items) and we end up with throwing stuff out.”

Mr Sethia said he purchased the business eight months ago with plans for someone experienced in retail to run it, however that person ended up being unable to do so due to a family emergency.

“I admit that we have not managed the store ‘top notch’ because we did not have the person who was going to be there with experience,” he said.

Mr Sethia said the store had not been able to realise the sales figures quoted when purchasing the business.

“We had no one to run it so I had an employee stepped in and he had no (management) experience, he did his best but what we realised when he entered the store is we spent a lot of money,” he said.

“We spent $250,000 just in stock on day one so when the store opened we backed it up with stock because when we had entered that was the feedback from people, that we needed stock.”

Mr Sethia said he was losing money in the business at a rapid rate.

“We have no interest in staying in Mount Gambier either because every week I am putting $20,000 to $30,000 in this business,” he said.

“No other business I can bet would put in as much money as us and it is hundreds of thousands of dollars that has just gone in the drain from losses.

“If we know that all we will get is bashing on social media no matter what we do then what is the point of us spending more and more money. We got into this vicious circle of more payment for stock, staff and overheads and less money coming in since.

“Constantly we were having to put money in the business and the sales have declined over time and obviously one of the big reasons was some disgruntled staff who wanted more pay and they resigned and then they just decided they were going to bring the business down and that is exactly what they have been successful in doing.”

Mr Sethia said he was aware of complaints circulating on social media regarding the sale of expired products and the shelves continuing to remain bare.

“We have followed processes of date checks, we have followed processes of taking out expired products,” he said.

“A lot of the photos that have been taken you could not even know if it is from our store or not.

“We emptied one aisle altogether so that we could bring in some variety and some boutique stuff from overseas which is not available in Mount Gambier otherwise to give the store a point of difference.

“What people did is they took photos of that aisle and posted it on social media comparing photos of the store from the opening ceremony to this empty aisle.”

Mr Sethia said it was not uncommon for supermarkets to have customer complaints and his Mount Gambier store was no different, but he is always willing to listen to customers and resolve their issue.

“We have given them refunds, we have exchanged the product for them and we have always resolved the issue,” he said.

Mr Sethia added he was open to all options moving forward, including selling the store.

“We have no intentions of running it, we are only running it because we have an obligation to everyone who is out there including the most important people – our landlords,” he said.

“We welcome anyone from the community in Mount Gambier or anyone who can run and manage and they can buy the store.

“If we are obviously so bad and we have not done the right thing, just come and buy it and run it. I have no problem, I will sell it at a loss as well.

“I am open to all options. I am open to selling, I am open to if someone is experienced wants to come and run it and I am open to have good management.

“I am also open to reinvesting again more stock, more staff and more service if we get some sort of blowback into the supermarket where people are coming and buying because otherwise it is this vicious circle of constantly putting money into the drain and having no luck and no results.”

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