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RITCHIES – THE END OF AN ERA?

Updated: May 30, 2023

RITCHIES – THE END OF AN ERA?

Recently Ritchies announced that their Somerville Supermarket would be closing in July 2023.

The original Somerville General Store opened back in the early 1900’s and was owned by the Doherty’s in the 60’s and the McDonald’s in the 70’s. Descendants of both families still live in Somerville today. Bruce and Margaret McDonald sold the store to Ritchies in 1979 and Ritchies renovated the site and opened the Ritchie’s' Supermarket in 1980.

So how does a Supermarket in a town of 15 000 people fail after 120 plus years on the site?

I remember talking to a Ritchies director back in the 1990’s and asking him what the impact of the then Safeway would be. He said sales would drop by 50%!!! He confirmed this a few years later. Subsequent to this was the opening of Coles and the Aldi, effectively Ritchies market share has fallen from 100% to less than 10%. The truth lies in once Safeway opened, retail sales in the Eramosa Road East area declined as well.

Speaking with Ritchies Management last week, they indicated that the property is over 300 square metres. It represents the 5th largest Commercial property in Somerville behind the Pub, Coles, Woolworths, and Aldi. Importantly the site has a Liquor License, which would be very valuable to a prospective tenant.

Ritchies has indicated that the supermarket has not been making a profit for several years.

They have indicated a “soft” close in July 2023, noting that they still hold the Lease. This may mean that they will at some point stop stocking slow-moving items and only re-stock the more popular items such as Coca-Cola, but nothing is clear at this time. They have not indicated when their lease expires, and we are trying to find the details of the Landlord or Agent that will be looking to Lease out this space. Please let us know if you have any details.


THE FUTURE

The Eramosa Road East retail precinct has changed remarkably since being built in the 1970’s.

Back then and over the years there was a Butcher, Fruit Shop, 2 x Bakeries, Clothing, Toys, Newsagent, Chemist, Hairdresser, State Bank, Commonwealth Bank, National Bank, Pet Shop, Sporting Supplies, Hardware, Florist, the local MP and the Library.

Unfortunately (and I am to blame also) there has been a shift away from Retail to a more Office type and After-hours use of the once retail strip, where Accountants, Real Estate Agents, Massage, Beauty, Offices and Restaurants have taken over. The other thing is the Internet, whereby people aren’t required to travel to these ”offices” and things are sourced and finalized over the internet. Hence the banks close, the accountants use the “cloud” and Real Estate office have websites and meet clients at the house rather than at the office.


All of this leads to a decrease in foot traffic to Eramosa Road East. Less Retail shops and the Internet are the core problem for the Retail shops.


WHAT CAN BE DONE?

1. Focus on the positives.

2. Harness the people that go to Aldi? How many walk around the corner? How do we get these people to visit these shops.

3. Lower Rents for business owners compared with Somerville Plaza and Somerville Central. This means that business costs are lower on the Eramosa Road East side.

4. Currently there are two empty shops where the Commonwealth Bank was, they are currently not leased, but eventually they will be.

5. Eventually the Ritchies site will be re-leased.

6. The existing retail shops are all fantastic, the butcher, clothing, bakery, cake decorations, paper store, marketplace, hairdressers, beauty salons, tattoo parlour, cafes, restaurants, take away food, and florist. All have their own point of difference.

7. The upgrade to the pedestrian crossings at the roundabout will provide much safer access to the area. This work will commence in July or August 2023.

8. Construction of the Baxter to Somerville Bike Trail is due to commence in October 2023. This should bring bike riders to the area.

9. Thankfully Deb Sherlock from Beauty Exposed Boutique is looking to put together a “Somerville Village Eastside Street Traders Night” on Friday 23rd June, 2023 and subsequent nights each month after that.

Apologies to anyone we have missed!!!


In the meantime we need to show prospective tenants that this is a vibrant shopping precinct and that is well worth investing in the vacant shops in the area. And just as important we need to retain all our our fantastic retail stores that we have.


THE BIGGEST THING IS WE NEED TO GET BEHIND THE ERAMOSA ROAD EAST SHOPS. DON’T GET ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND SAY YOU SHOULD DO THIS AND YOU SHOULD DO THAT, NOW IS THE TIME TO PLEASE GO TO THESE SHOPS AND SUPPORT ALL OF THEM!!!



AND THAT MEANS ALL OF US.


David Livingstone

Chairperson

Somerville Business Group Inc.

29th May, 2023.







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