HIGHFIELDS businessman Craig Stibbard says there's a good reason the shelves of his hardware store are bare - and he wants to assure the community he's here to stay.

After 24 years servicing the Highfields and Toowoomba communities through his Craig's Home Hardware business, Mr Stibbard ran into a tough patch after a change to the way parent company, the Woolworths Group, marketed the Home Hardware chain.

Mr Stibbard said the problems were a result of a new focus on servicing trades, where the majority of his customers were typical residents looking to add a lick of paint to the family home or give the backyard a bit of TLC.

He found himself with more trade-level power tools and supplies than he was able to sell without losing money, so approached his bank, Heritage, to apply for a loan to ensure the business could continue to run at full capacity until it got over the hump.

Mr Stibbard said because he had a "slow and steady" approach to building the business over two and a half decades, and he had never defaulted on a payment, he believed obtaining the loan would be a straightforward process.

He said he was shocked to receive a call telling him his application had been declined.

Craig Stibbard is here to assure customers he is still in business and fighting back from tough times.
Craig Stibbard is here to assure customers he is still in business and fighting back from tough times. Nev Madsen

Almost two years on, Mr Stibbard said the effects had become evident and he believed it was time to assure his community he would fight to get the business back on track.

He said shelves in the Highfields store were looking a good deal more bare than customers were used to and he was concerned residents would think he was closing down.

Mr Stibbard said it would be a slow and steady ascent back to the business' previous heights, but was confident it would.

"Most of our creditors have been great working with us and understand the situation, but after 24 years in business I can't understand how this could happen," Mr Stibbard said.

"We're trading over $2 million a year and through all this we're starting to buy a lot better and a lot smarter, so our margin has gone up.

"I just want to apologise for not having the depth of stock on the shelves because of this situation."

Heritage Bank CEO Peter Lock said all loans through Heritage were individually assessed based on available capital, the capacity to make repayments and the character of the applicant, whether it was a personal loan, home loan or a commercial loan.

While he was unable to comment specifically on Mr Stibbard's situation, he said those three factors formed the basis of all applications and in many cases it was the capacity to make repayments deteriorating that was the deciding factor.
 


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