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Australian Manns Mitre 10 hardware store closes after rent dispute

Sunday, January 27, 2013

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Wednesday, an over-90-year-old Manns Mitre 10 hardware store, run by Alex P Mann Pty Ltd, closed until further notice after a rent dispute in Port Adelaide, South Australia. The rent dispute involved $315,060.70 of rent for months of September 2012 to January 2013 unpaid to the landlord, Fourteen Sails Pty Ltd. The site was distrained. The store had to fire about 40–50 employees without a warning in advance.

The store was closed three days before Australia Day, January 26, Saturday.

The store administrator, Tim Clifton, said they had to ring the workers out of the blue: “I was advised the landlord had distrained for unpaid rent over the business and that left the directors in the position where the business was untenable. I presume at this stage trading was poor and the company just didn’t have the money to pay the rent. … Unfortunately they had to terminate their employment this morning and we’ve rung them all. We’ll do our best to get them their entitlements under the government schemes, and we calculate what they’re owed in the next few days and hopefully get that underway for them. … It’s a sad day. It’s a sign of the times isn’t it. Things are tough out there.”

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Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union state secretary Dave Kirner said workers were not allowed to collect their personal belongings left inside of the store: “I spoke with a worker who said the locks have been changed, they were asked to leave and all their personal belongings are in there”.

On Saturday, Wikinews took photos of the documents available at the store entrance. The rent dispute details and an inventory were available for everyone to read. During the ten minutes of taking photos, around seven people visited the closed entrance and read the documents a first time. One of them commented, “oh hey, Bunnings will be stronger”.

The store owner, Jarred Spearman, reported negotiations ongoing with the landlord and said he would “hopefully try to work [our] way out of this … We are pretty lucky to have the customers and staff we had”.

Port Adelaide Mayor Gary Johanson said the loss of the store is a significant loss as Port Adelaide is being redeveloped: “Their staff were extremely good, the service levels were high, the store was always well stocked and it was a great example of a family business. That will be a great loss to the Port.” “The landlord is not at fault here. The landlord is acting within their rights. … This is the sort of thing we cannot afford to lose if we’re serious about the Port being redeveloped. This is not a multinational company. This is a franchise of a bigger company but it is a family franchise and it employs a lot of staff. The staff that they employ are local people and they’re employing large amounts of staff in relation to their turnover. We need to take stock of what local businesses we have left and say, how can we ensure they stay with us?”

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