Woolworths is expected to roll out further convenience concept stores in Melbourne, with locations for the smaller-scale stores identified at 160 Swanston Street and at 262 Flinders Street.
The Flinders Street store will occupy a space which previously traded as Sam’s IGA Plus Liquor Flinders. Melbourne City Council’s on-line Planning Register shows that a permit was issued on 16 December 2014 for “Alterations and additions to the existing shopfront and display of business identification signage” at 256-268 Flinders Street. It is unclear at this stage whether Woolworths would be taking on the liquor component of the previous IGA store.
It appears that both Woolworths and Coles are searching for busy inner-city sites of between 200 and 400 square metres in size as inner-city development creates a larger population base.
Sydney-based convenience store chain, EzyMart, has seen strong growth in the Sydney market in a relatively short four year period and is soon to open its fifth Melbourne store, after signing a lease on the corner of Queen and Little Collins Streets.
As the supermarkets increasingly move into smaller-format stores, smaller retailers who have traditionally occupied this arena will no doubt find it increasingly difficult to compete against the market power of the supermarket chains.
The push by the big retailers is likely to hurt traditional smaller-format operators like 7-Eleven, EzyMart and IGA and comes amid concerns from suppliers about the large retailers’ misuse of market power.