MORE than 20 employees of a major Ballarat hardware business will lose their jobs after Christmas, in a move that has left the staff and their families devastated.
Dahlsens Building Centre has confirmed 24 permanent jobs will be made redundant at its Albert Street branch at Sebastopol, while branches at Albury and Traralgon will also be scaled back.
Those keeping their jobs could also have some of their positions restructured. Staff were informed of the news on Friday.
It comes as the centre plans to close its lifestyle offerings to focus only on the trade market.
Dahlsens sales and marketing manager Fabrice Boucherat said increased competition in the DIY and retail sector had made their position impossible.
“Taking these steps will allow the stores to focus on their trade business, which is the core of Dahlsens and where we know we have a strong and successful business model,” he said.
“For those affected, the company would like to publicly thank them all for their effort and loyalty and express regret that the changing dynamics in the industry did not allow us to maintain our offers and keep them employed.”
He said Ballarat was considered a particularly competitive market with Bunnings already in town and a branch of Masters Home Improvement on the way.
The branch will close on December 24 for remodelling and will reopen on January 7 under the new business structure.
The Courier understands that most of the redundant workers will depart on January 25 but some could go as early as Christmas.
Mr Boucherat said affected workers would receive retrenchment packages and in the next three weeks, Dahlsens would conduct clearance sales to reduce retail stocks as much as possible.
Dahlsens Building Centre bought Coltman Mitre10 in 2006 and took over the Doveton Street and Sebastopol Coltman Mitre10 businesses.
The sale ended a 116-year era of the Coltman brand in Ballarat.
Federal Member for Ballarat Catherine King said it was incredibly disappointing to hear of people losing their jobs at any time, but even more so around Christmas.
She said the local employment co-ordinator would assist with access to Centrelink and other job services.
“I understand the intensity of the competition in the hardware retail sector has played a significant part in these decisions being made by Dahlsens both here and elsewhere in the state,” she said.