WOOLWORTHS in Fremantle will close at the end of the month.
Staff were told last week the shutters on the Adelaide Street store will pull down for the last time on May 27.
A dwindling customer base and falling sales prompted the struggling grocery giant to pull the pin, despite 12 years left on the lease. A source close to an employee at the East End store says theft has been a major problem.
A Woolworths spokesperson says the company will try to redeploy staff to nearby stores, including the new Woolies in Port Coogee, opening next month.
The closure is the latest in a series of body blows to Fremantle’s ailing retail sector, and will dishearten those trying to enliven the East End.
Woolies shopper Michele Corbo says Fremantle is in danger of losing city status.
“We might as well take down our sign saying ‘city’ and put up one saying ‘village’,” the North Fremantle resident laments.
“Retailers are leaving in droves and the streets around Woolworths are full of empty lots and shopfronts. This city is in danger of having a massive casual workforce, who can’t get finance and will be forced to live hand-to-mouth.”
The news follows in the wake of SKS Group announcing its planned Hilton DoubleTree hotel—across from Woolies at the corner of Adelaide and Point Streets—was more than two years behind schedule, with the opening pushed back to mid 2019.
Mayor Brad Pettitt says the city will not try to persuade Woolworths to stay: “I would have liked it to stay, but it does not have the same strategic value as a store like Myer does,” he says. “Woolworths has always been in a strange location in Fremantle.”
by STEPHEN POLLOCK