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Slump claims Fyshwick building supplier

Closing ... Fisher Discount store on Barrier Street in Fyshwick.

Closing ... Fisher Discount store on Barrier Street in Fyshwick.

An easing in mining activity, political uncertainty and the state of the local housing sector may have all combined to kill off a well-known Canberra business.

Unless a "white knight'' investor emerges, Fisher Discount Workshop Machinery in Fyshwick will close at the end of the month. About seven staff have already lost their jobs and the remaining five will go when the 33-year-old business closes.

Rob Chambers, who bought the business in April, said several factors had combined to force him to close.

"A combination of things have come together to spell its end,'' Mr Chambers said.

He said before he bought Fisher Discount, the business was included in a pool of assets hit hard by the introduction of the mining super-profits tax. Mr Chambers said the business had suffered a further downturn when former prime minister Julia Gillard announced in January the election would be on September 14.

"Every business in Canberra seems to stop when an election gets called,'' he said.

Other factors had hurt the business as well. "Everywhere you go - interstate as well - builders are not building houses,'' Mr Chambers said. "Builders I know in Canberra have got houses they built 12 months ago that still haven't sold. They're hardly in a position to go out building more. We need to sell nails by the pallet load in Canberra, now you'd never sell a pallet of nails.''

Despite the challenges faced by Fisher Discount, Mr Chambers believed it could recover quickly if a new investor was found. "I think it would bounce back reasonably quickly. We're looking for a white knight, I guess, but they don't have a lot of time to turn up,'' he said. Andrew Blyth, chief executive of the ACT and Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the private sector was weak and the announcement by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd that 800 jobs would be cut from the public service had not helped.

''We need to be doing all that we can for the private sector in this town and we should have been trying to diversify our workforce and business years back,'' he said.

Figures from the Insolvency and Trustee Service show there were 60 personal bankruptcies in the ACT in the June quarter - 87 per cent more than in the quarter last year.

17 comments

  • Not that suprised really. Only visited this place twice and experienced terrible customer service. Typical toolshop attitude of assuming every person walking through the door is a tradie - you'd be lucky to get a hello out of them.
    Now I shop at that new tool megamart in Fyshwick and get fantastic service and no attitude

    Commenter
    Nigel
    Date and time
    July 18, 2013, 8:24AM
    • 100% Spot on. But of course people are blaming everyone but the business owners. Just read the replies. Some blame the government, some blame Bunnings, Masters etc, when you as a customer have hit the nail on the head.

      The real reason is people are shopping elsewhere, and not Bunnings or Masters, the customers from Fishers are at other specialist tool shops of which there are many of them.

      Commenter
      Jimmy
      Location
      CBR
      Date and time
      July 18, 2013, 10:54AM
    • Agreed, I used to buy there all the time but since Tommy Fisher passed away the place has gradually gone downhill. Unfriendly, unhelpful staff, range Of products reduced , some stuff just not carried anymore at all. So I voted with my feet & as I suspected a lot of people dI'd too. Poor Tommy would be so dissapointed!

      Commenter
      RIP Tommy
      Date and time
      July 18, 2013, 11:18AM
  • I am curious as to how a small tool business in Canberra can in any way shape of form be effected by the mining super profit tax? Now if in the middle of a major mining area I could maybe half understand, although there are mines around Canberra I doubt a single one of them is paying this tax.

    Sounds to me to be a case of a poor business decision by Mr Chambers, especially as he has only owned it 3 months, but of course it is every one elses fault rather than his.

    Commenter
    Jimmy
    Location
    CBR
    Date and time
    July 18, 2013, 8:39AM
    • It simple supply and demand.
      When housing was booming demand for tools was high, now housing has collapsed so has demand for tools.

      Commenter
      TheJoker1214324
      Date and time
      July 18, 2013, 9:01AM
      • Plus the fact it's cheaper & easier for people like me to buy something I want online in Washington State or New Jersey in the U.S.A than it is to do so in Fyshwick A.C.T.
        I always try to shop locally first but when it's half price or less overseas the decision is made simple when talking hundreds of dollars difference.
        Consumers have never had more choice on price and shops.

        Commenter
        dusty
        Date and time
        July 18, 2013, 10:12AM
      • Except of course that building approvals in the ACT are flat, meaning that demand and is constant. Sure the stats will show some months with a decline, but other months are showing increases, including the latest available figures that were in May 2013 that shows a 4.1% increase.

        Commenter
        Jimmy
        Location
        CBR
        Date and time
        July 18, 2013, 10:45AM
      • Dusty, that includes quality brands, freight and on your door step within 5 to 7 days.

        Commenter
        NITRO GANGSTER
        Date and time
        July 18, 2013, 11:10AM
    • To much competition in this industry now, Bunning's, Magnet Mart and Masters. It was the wrong industry to invest in. The government is making it hard for every business in Australia, red tape and taxes. We allow every other country to take advantage of what we call free trade only we are the losers. Other countries can but our farms and not pay any tax at all and the profits and produce all go out of Australia. What we need is some politician's with a set of clangers to change these stupid rules and protect Australian business's and interests.

      Commenter
      ngwalker
      Location
      Banks
      Date and time
      July 18, 2013, 9:51AM
      • Wasn't it only last night on the news that Canberra was the only place where housing construction was UP in the last quarter?

        Commenter
        David
        Date and time
        July 18, 2013, 9:55AM

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