Ray's Outdoors has a 60-year history, but it's closing in Ballarat

CLOSING: RAYS has a strong presence at the entrance to the Ballarat CBD.
CLOSING: RAYS has a strong presence at the entrance to the Ballarat CBD.

One of Ballarat’s best known outdoor and camping stores is to close.

RAYS in Ballarat East, once known as Ray’s Outdoors (and before that Ray’s Tent City), will finish trading in the near future following a decision by owner Super Retail Group to revamp the brand.

The group, formerly Super Cheap Auto, purchased the Ray’s Outdoors brand in 2010 for $54 million. Super Retail Group owns the brands BCF Boating Camping Fishing, Rebel Sport and Super Cheap Auto.

The group also purchased New Zealand outdoor retailer MacPac earlier this month for $144m NZD.

A business plan outlined by Mr Birtles said ‘profitable’ RAYS would be integrated into the MacPac brand.

The gateway store on the corner of Humffray and Curtis streets had only recently undergone rebranding as part of a plan by Super Retail CEO Peter Birtles to take on rival Kathmandu and enter the multi-billion dollar outdoor leisure market. 

The closure in Ballarat follows numerous other RAYS closures around the country.

A staff member said Ray’s had been at the Bakery Hill roundabout site for about 15 years.

Clearance: the Ballarat store is being emptied.

Clearance: the Ballarat store is being emptied.

“Prior to that we were in Sturt Street. We’re not sure when we are closing exactly, but we are not restocking.”

Ray’s Outdoors was founded in 1958 in Geelong as a single store manufacturing tents and selling army disposals.

A spokesperson for the Super Retail Group issued the following statement.

“Super Retail Group proudly houses a number of retail brands including Supercheap Auto, Rebel and BCF Boating Camping Fishing. All three of these brands have a store presence in Ballarat.

“We pay close attention to what customers in each local area want and the decision to close Rays Ballarat reflects our desire to better match store locations with our local customers’ needs.”

Asked directly about the employment prospects for Ballarat staff, the spokesperson wrote:

“It is our full intention to redeploy as many RAYS team members as possible – Super Retail Group has an extensive network of over 650 stores across our brands, and it is our intention to retain as many team members as possible across this network.

“Following the acquisition of Macpac, we intend to integrate the majority of RAYS stores into the Macpac business over the coming 12 months.”

Retail Super Group had previously acquired Amart sports, which was founded in Queensland in 1976, and converted the brand to Rebel stores.

The group recorded total sales of $2.5 billion for the 2016/17 financial year on the back of strong performances by its BCF stores.