1 Feb 2012

Smith disappointed that stores are closing

9:44 pm on 1 February 2012

Australian entrepreneur Dick Smith has spoken of his disappointment that up to a quarter of the chain of electronics stores he founded is to be sold.

Woolworths, which now owns the chain, plans to sell up to 100 under-performing Dick Smith stores in Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Smith, who sold his shares in the chain nearly 30 years ago, says it's greatly disappointing to hear so many stores will be sold.

He hopes they will remain in Australian ownership, but fears they won't and describes the future of traditional electronics retail stores as "doomed" .

Mr Smith says the latest round of closures is an indication of things to come because the cost of electronic goods has dropped dramatically over the years while the cost of labour has gone up.

He says, with on-line and foreign-owned stores offering low-cost goods, he doesn't see how local retail stores can stay competitive.

It's not yet clear how many New Zealand stores will be affected. But Woolworths has stated it will redeploy people to other stores.

Rival retailer JB HiFi has been named as a possible buyer of the chain.

News unsettling for staff - union says

First Union, which represents retail employees, says the news is unsettling for staff since the company has not specified which stores will be targeted and when.

A spokesperson, Maxine Gay, says workers need to have some certainty about their future.