CONCERNS over the future of Armidale’s retail sector have deepened after another two local businesses confirmed they will close within the next month.
Thom’s Retravision is expected to end almost 50 years of local service by mid-August while Ally Fashion, a popular women’s clothing store, will also shut down on August 12.
Armidale Retravision owner Tony Thom told The Express the decision to close was based on a “failure to generate sufficient returns”.
“The current retail sector is as bad as I’ve ever seen it during nearly 20 years as owner of the business,” he said.
“It’s been particularly quiet in the past few months and in today’s economic climate we’ve found it increasingly difficult to justify the enormous investment we are making in time and money.”
Retravision once thrived in Armidale, with two outlets in Dangar and Rusden streets. Mr Thom’s father previously owned the business before he was bought out by his son.
Mr Thom said he had opted to close the business now in order to leave on his own terms.
The closure will cost around a dozen staff their jobs, but Mr Thom said they had been very supportive of the decision.
“It has been a difficult decision given we have been in business here for close to 50 years,” he said.“But we do it knowing we can still meet our commitments to our staff, our landlord and to our suppliers both here in Armidale and elsewhere.”
“We have a fantastic group of employees and to tell them was very disappointing.”
Ally Fashion Armidale’s manager Jasmine Cox said local staff hadn’t been given a genuine reason for the store’s closure. Ms Cox said they would fight to keep the “viable business” and had already added 100 signatures to a petition.
“Every day I have customers from Glen Innes, Inverell and Guyra so I think there’s definitely a market for it here,” she said. “From what I’ve been told it’s got a lot to do with high rental costs and a lack of understanding of rural areas.”
Both stores join the growing list of closures in Armidale as the nationwide downturn in retail spending and increase in online shopping affects local businesses. The stores will follow Harrisons of Armidale, Best & Less and Brumby’s in closing this year.