By James Wells
ALICE SPRINGS: With the Retravision NSW business going into receivership and the migration of stores to Victoria and Queensland, as well as several closures and defections to other buying groups, it has been a tough year for group chairman Bill Harries.
Opening the group’s 46th national seminar, Retravision chairman, Bill Harries, walked on to the stage after a re-working of the retailer’s advertising jingle – “Walk The Extra Mile”, based on The Proclaimers “I would walk 500 miles”.
Some of the lyrics within the re-worked song represented the company’s present issues: “Business has been tough, and we have seen it though” and “Let’s work together, there’s nothing we can’t do”.
“The last 12 months have been particularly challenging for the Retravision group,” Harries said.
“We do not want to dwell on them, but they put in context our plans for the future.”
Harries blamed interest rate rises, increasing fuel prices and high levels of debt following a recent housing boom as the primary factors affecting the retail market.
“New housing starts are down five per cent, compared with an average of eight per cent increases over the last five years,” he said.
Harries referred to his home state of Western Australia that is currently benefiting from a mining boom and strong overseas demand for minerals.
“Things are not as positive on the east coast of Australia with Sydney exhibiting all the conditions of a recession. Queensland and Victoria are also finding it tough.”
Harries also blamed high debt, rising interest rates and fuel prices for patchy results in New Zealand.
“Overall trading conditions have contributed to a restructuring. The directors of Retravision NSW were left with no alternative but to appoint an administrator. I do not want to go over this again, but before this occurred we already had drafted a plan to implement.
“We knew that within Retravision there were 86 stores where members had consistently met their financial obligations – these were the stores that we wanted to retain. We successfully migrated 81 of those stores which was very close to the original target in the plan.
“We were not alone in experiencing difficulty with Betta Stores also being placed into receivership," Harries said.