Dick Smith stores under a cloud

Australian entrepreneur Dick Smith is angered at the planned sell off by Woolworths Limited of the chain that he founded and still bears his name.
Australian entrepreneur Dick Smith is angered at the planned sell off by Woolworths Limited of the chain that he founded and still bears his name.

THE future of three Toowoomba Dick Smith stores are under a cloud after Woolworths Limited announced today plans to sell off the iconic Australian electronics brand.

Woolworths Limited's ongoing turf war with Coles Supermarkets is understood to behind the retailer's shock decision.

In its strategic review last November, the retail giant said it concluded the future of the Dick Smith business could be better realised through new ownership, sparking fears the brand would be snapped up by a foreign buyer.

Although he sold the business that still bears his name to Woolworths Limited in 1982, entrepreneur Dick Smith is angered by decision.

"Little Australia won't have any ownership at all," Mr Smith said.

"Anyone buying it should know that Dick Smith is very likely to be critical," he added.

When contacted this morning, the store managers of Toowoomba's three stores located at Grand Central Shopping Centre, Clifford Gardens Shopping Centre and Ruthven St said they could not comment on the matter.

Woolworths Limited CEO Grant O'Brien said as many as 100 underperforming Dick Smith stores across Australia had been identified for closure within the next two years forming part of an accelerated plan in order to make it more attractive to potential buyers.

"Dick Smith is an iconic specialty consumer electronics brand with a strong team and leading online presence," Mr O'Brien said.

"We believe that separating this speciality model from Woolworths is now the best option for the future of both businesses."

Woolworths said it was considering several unsolicited offers for Dick Smith and would aim instead to sell consumer electronics through its Big W and online operations.

A Woolworths Limited spokesman would not divulge which Dick Smith stores had been earmarked for closure or how many employees would be affected.

Topics:  closure dick smith toowoomba woolworths

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