G GAY and Co has merged with hardware heavyweight Mitre 10 in a bid to secure market share in the city’s hardware and building retail sector.
The family-owned Ballarat institution will rebrand its three stores in Mitre 10 colours by the end of June, however co-owner David Gay says it will be business as usual.
Brothers David and Ross Gay will continue to run day-to-day operations and current employees will remain.
“The decision to merge was so that we could strengthen and shore up our business going forward,” Mr Gay said.
“The building and home improvement sector has changed significantly in recent years with the introduction of big corporations such as Bunnings and Masters.
“Being part of a strong independent group like Mitre 10 puts us on an even keel with the big corporations as far as buying power.”
G Gay and Co’s smallest store on Main Road will be transferred to larger premises at the former Dahlsens store in Sebastopol.
“It’s part of our family succession plan. We are a fourth-generation family business and we wanted to shore up the future business,” Mr Gay said.
G Gay and Co secured a deal with Woolworths in 2012 to introduce the retail giant to Ballarat’s building sector, but the move was halted when the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission rejected the deal.
“The ACCC stepped in and had concerns about a lack of competition,” Mr Gay said.
“If Woolworths could buy our stores it would give an unfair competitive advantage in a town the size of Ballarat.”
He said the business had a traditional point of difference from Bunnings and Masters because of its relationship with the community going back to 1918.
“Bunnings and Masters are retail, our store is a trade business, even though we have hardware stores,” Mr Gay said.
“Products we sell overlap considerably, but we serve a different breed of customers.”