Big W reveals first stores to close

THE first Big W stores to close their doors have been revealed as the discount department chain pushes ahead with its cost saving strategy.

The subsidiary of Woolworths confirmed all three closures are in Sydney - Chullora, Auburn and Fairfield will shut up shop in January after reaching an agreement with landlords.

"These are not decisions we take lightly and we regret the impact the closures will have on affected team members," Big W managing director David Walker confirmed to news.com.au in a statement.

He said supporting employees who have lost their jobs remains a priority for the company which is committed to "doing the right thing".

"Over the next six months, we will support our team and explore redeployment opportunities with team members who choose to continue their career at Big W or with other Woolworths Group brands in the months ahead," Mr Walker said.

The company says it will continue to work with landlords in the coming months before deciding on which of the next 27 stores will be on the chopping block.

In April, Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci said there was "no alternative" but to close 30 Big W stores across Australia in an attempt to keep to keep the business afloat.

The process will put a $370 million dent in the company's profit, the conglomerate announced to the Australian share market at the time.

The company had already confirmed a warehouse in Monarto, southeast of Adelaide, will close in the 2021 financial year, with one in Warwick, Queensland, to follow two years later.

The blow to the company's profits includes $270 million in lease and exit costs for closing about 16 per cent of its department store network, plus $100 million of non-cash asset impairments.

Mr Banducci said at the time a number of staff members would be recycled back into the business where possible.

"Our aspiration is to provide as many opportunities as we can for our team and that is what we intend working very hard on," he said.

Big W has struggled to turn a profit for a number of years and operates in a highly competitive market against the likes of fellow discount department stores Target and Kmart.

But Mr Banducci said closing the business altogether simply wasn't an option.

"We all need to lean in and support the business where we can," he said.

"There are a lot of people who work there and it's very important to them and to the community in which we operate.

"There's no alternative, in truth, for us and we're all behind it and highly invested in making it successful."

The announcement follows reports from The Australian earlier in the week that shopping centre landlords had already begun pitching for new tenants to fill the empty Big W stores on Woolworth's closure list.

Continue the conversation on Twitter @James_P_Hall or james.hall1@news.com.au


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