Uncertain future for Beaurepaires staff
MICHAEL BERRY AND WILLIAM MACE
The Blenheim Rd branch of Beaurepaires and a Sockburn retreading centre are likely to be sold or closed as the tyre service chain offloads 24 stores nationwide.
The sales are subject to the company's consultation with the 219 staff affected, including about 30 based in Christchurch, their union says.
Beaurepaires, best known for its television advertisements fronted by Australian actor Vince Martin, is owned by US industry giant Goodyear Dunlop.
The Beaurepaires stores on the block service large trucks and buses. The company intends to focus on everyday vehicles and light trucks.
Goodyear Dunlop spokesman Marty Dinniss said some of the commercial stores, Blenheim Rd included, are open to cars and light trucks as well.
The company has asked for expressions of interest from prospective buyers of the outlets, and there are many possible options, Dinniss said. Potential buyers included employees or competitors.
A Jeffers Rd, Sockburn tyre retreading factory owned by Goodyear Dunlop is also on the company's disposal list.
Beaurepaires has not released a list of affected stores to prevent scaring away customers, and lowering the potential sale prices.
"People who were interested would be aware of which commercial stores Beaurepaires have . . . and would make a call and ask that question," Dinniss said.
Several potential buyers have already expressed interest.
Of the 10 greater Christchurch stores, Blenheim Rd is the only one affected by the plan, Dinniss said.
"Blenheim Rd will be affected in some way, hopefully it's just the staff getting a payslip from a different person."
Beaurepaires farm machinery servicing operation and Goodyear Dunlop's wholesale tyre supply to other retailers would be unaffected.
Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union organiser Damon Rongotaua said he had received calls from worried workers yesterday and would formally meet the company today.
Motor Trade Association spokesman Ian Stronach said he had been aware that Beaurepaires was looking at responding to falling freight volumes.
"In a lot of ways this is not a major surprise, this is an area that had been very slow for them for quite a while," he said.
High fuel prices had squeezed both commercial and passenger vehicle owners.
New Zealand Transport Agency figures show heavy vehicle traffic slumped in 2009 for the first time since records began in 1989.
A 2010 recovery was quashed by another contraction last year.
"Your trucks and trailer units are just not being used, and when they're not being used, you're not wearing anything out," Stronach said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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