Multinational Danks buys three Ballarat hardware stores

BALLARAT-owned hardware business G Gay & Co has been bought out by a multinational joint-venture — the latest local business to be sold to a major player. John Danks and Son, owned by a joint venture between Woolworths and US retailer Lowe’s Companies, will acquire three Gay stores including two Home Timber and Hardware outlets located in Ballarat and Wendouree and Ballarat Building Supplies. The business was established by miner Godfrey Gay in 1918 and has been owned and operated by four generations of the Gay family. In the 1990s the business was expanded with new stores servicing trade customers and focused on personal service. The purchase increases Woolworths’ market share in Ballarat, adding to supermarkets, department stores, liquor outlets and a planned Masters Home Improvement store. Danks has committed to retain all current employees of the business, including support staff and management. Home Timber and Hardware general manager Mark Burrowes said the acquisition would see further development of the stores. “The Gays brand is well-known in the area and we are pleased to have an opportunity to build on its strong reputation in servicing the hardware needs of Ballarat customers,” he said. “We intend to play an active role in the hardware and home improvement category, and through our combined retail and wholesale network we will continue to deliver the best possible value, choice and service.” Ballarat business and political identity Craig Coltman, whose family owned Coltman Mitre 10 until 2007, congratulated the Gay family on the sale. “The Gay family had a very strong trade base and traditionally the big co-operates have not been too good at cultivating a base,” he said.“I imagine they are hoping to leverage into the trades market but buying the business is one thing, running it is another — and to do that well you have to be very close to your customers and be responsive to their needs and wishes.” Commerce Ballarat chairwoman Barb O’Dwyer said the joint venture’s commitment of continued employment for current staff was positive. “I think as long as they are supporting their employees and there for the wider community, it can only be a good thing,” she said. Ms O’Dwyer said the news was in stark contrast to recent Victorian job losses.“Other hardware stores including Bunnings, which is a member of Commerce Ballarat, employ a good deal of local people and are community minded, so I would hope others would be giving back in ways such as this.”