By Sarah Chenhall
The Wykes family Retravision stores will cease trading tomorrow afternoon after 32 years and reopen on Monday morning as Harvey Norman.
The family cites the demise of their supplier Southern Retravision, and an industry-wide drop in discretionary spending across the nation as the reasons for the change.
Graeme Wykes will leave a six-year retirement to be the franchisee of the Eden and Tura Beach stores while his wife Anne and brother Sheldon’s wife Robin will both retire.
He says the restructure will bring some security to the two remaining stores after the closure of the Bega store in May this year.
”The tough trading environment in the last 12 months is another reason for the change. It’s getting harder and harder to be a small business in a small town,” he said yesterday.
“It’s not the ideal end to our career as a self-employed local business but it’s not as bad as we thought it would be and we are comfortable where we are now.”
So far, all staff will keep their jobs.
“All our people will keep their jobs which was a big worry for us,” Graeme said.
“We were really concerned, but now it’s business as usual.”
The changeover has occurred quickly.
Last Monday the multinational electrics giant Harvey Norman agreed to take over the family’s Tura Beach store and after some convincing from the Wykes family, agreed to take on Eden too.
“They just wanted Tura initially but we convinced them Eden was a good town to be in and a viable business."
While decision making ultimately lies with a metropolitan head office, Graeme said the local stores won’t lose their ‘personal touch’.
“One thing Harvey Norman is very good at is they recognise local business works better than if they try to come in over the top.”
“They know that we know the system, the area, we know the people and they want us to stay local.
“We can still run it as we have previously in terms of marketing and the decisions we make locally, but they ultimately are the bosses.”
On Tuesday the Wykes family were successful in severing connections with their supplier Southern Retravision after administrators gave them the ok “to leave”.
Like the other 103 stores affected by Southern Retravision’s demise, the Wykes were faced with writing off undisclosed losses in the form of unpaid rebates or sticking around to fight it out with other creditors.
“That created a lot of stress and we’re not going to come out of it unscathed,” Graeme said.
“(Leaving) cost us a lot of money, but we’re not as bad off as we thought we would be.”
Graeme said the private franchises in Eden and Tura Beach had struggled to stock their stores when Southern Retravision went into voluntary receivership in May.
“The receivers sort of locked us down and it’s caused a lot of angst. It’s really choked our business a fair bit,” Graeme said.
“We’ve survived by buying what we could from where we could with cash to keep our customers satisfied.”
The family believes their supply woes are now over with the arrival of Harvey Norman’s greater buying power.
Graeme said it will mean steady prices and more products including the introduction of the LG brand and the reintroduction of the Apple iPhone and iPad range.
The changes will also include a big sale day in August and mean longer trading hours for Tura Beach, to be open seven days.
“We’ve now got buying power we’ve never had before, they’re the best in the country and we’ll have a lot more items we couldn’t get before as a Retravision store” he said.