Roger Corbett heads the massive Woolworths company/army. Yesterday they made their move on the town of Maleny in Queensland. A street full of small businesses is at risk from the move. If any one of them closes a small piece of local culture closes with it. Woolworths and companies like it do nothing for the culture of a town or the country.
In years to come I suspect sociologists will look at giant clone businesses like Woolworths as as bad for our community as the fast food giants like McDonalds have been assessed in recent years in terms of diet. In my view they take more than they give.
Woolworths are pursuing pharmacies for their supermarkets so there is another small and independent business channel at risk.
I understand that Corbett needs the growth which comes from moving into towns like Maleny for his share price to rise. His obligation is to his shareholders and not the society in which his business operates.
Of course consumers will shop at Woolworths. Their advertising pitch will make people believe that they are getting a better deal. I’d argue that the volume of their advertising suggests that the deal is not that great.
I have a retail business where we carry a category of stationery product where our everyday prices are between 10% and 20% less that Big W. We’re also cheaper than the Coles Officeworks group as well as the government owned Australia Post.
The difference is that we do not have their advertising budget so we cannot tell the world we are cheaper.
So here is Corbett allowing his company to beat its chest that they want to get prescriptions sold from his supermarkets because they will be cheaper yet in this common stationery area even their best deal is not better than my small business can do.
In addition to beating Woolworths on price, my store offers a far superior customer experience, better product knowledge and a local connect.
If Woolworths continue their push small businesses will have to close and at some point down the track experts in such things will be able to tell us what we have lost as a result of their closing.
The war being waged by Woolworths against independent small businesses makes Roger Corbett a dangerous man (in terms of our culture) in my view.