Big W closure would affect the Mountains

Cr Kevin Schreiber outside Big W in Katoomba. He is worried that the store may be closed down under Woolworths' plans.
Cr Kevin Schreiber outside Big W in Katoomba. He is worried that the store may be closed down under Woolworths' plans.

Cr Kevin Schreiber has his knickers in a knot - the very knickers he may soon have to travel to Lithgow or Penrith to buy.

The Liberal councillor is worried that Big W in Katoomba might close down.

Woolworths has announced that it is considering the future of its Big W stores and expects to close up to 30 of them over the next three years.

Closure would be disastrous for the Mountains, Cr Schreiber said.

"The major concern I have is Big W in Katoomba is the cornerstone of the Katoomba shopping precinct," he said.

"It is the only major, mixed-business store between Lithgow and Penrith, which employs a great number of locals." Its loss would be "absolutely catastrophic".

"It's visited and shopped at by people from all over the Mountains and when tourists come to Katoomba they want to find somewhere to go and shop and find the things they need.

"And if this is not here, who's going to fill this gap? What could fill this space?"

Cr Schreiber called on Woolworths to announce which shops it will close "so people can get on with their lives instead of living with the threat of not having a job".

Cr Schreiber said he and his wife were regular shoppers at Big W, often buying presents for their grandchildren there, stocking up on Christmas decorations each year and checking out the range of clothes, including said knickers.

A spokeswoman for Woolworths confirmed the plan to close approximately 30 stores over the next three years.

"Details of store closure locations will not be released due to ongoing discussions with landlords. In the interim all Big W stores will continue to trade as normal," she said.

She emphasised Woolworths was not only looking at regional stores but at its entire network.

She added that the "majority of our store network" should remain open and they were committed to doing the right thing for staff in stores that are closed down.

"We will inform our team members, customers and community stakeholders well in advance of changes to any specific store."

She would not reveal how many people are employed at the Katoomba store.

Big W and Woolworths opened in Katoomba in 2014. The site was previously occupied by Coles and Kmart.

The Big W chain is expected to report a loss before interest and tax in this financial year of $80-$100 million. It lost $110 million in the previous financial year, according to Woolworths.