VICTOR HARBOR – After 28 years, Telstra is terminating its relationship with the Office Shop in Victor Harbor, but the business community is rallying around one of its own.
More than 50 business and community leaders attended a support session for the under-siege business on Wednesday, September 20.
Telstra notified Office Shop owner and manager Max Bell it would not renew its non-branded Telstra partnership when the contract expires on January 7, 2018. The decision means five local jobs will disappear.
There is a Telstra shop in the Victor Central Shopping Centre, which has been there for the past four years.
Chair of Business Victor Harbor Nick Gormley said Telstra was making a big mistake and should reconsider this course of action.
“We believe Max offers a service other Telstra stores do not and five local jobs will go if the partnership is terminated,” Mr Gormley said.
“There is a clear need for the service the Office Shop provides, as realistically Max looks after the older demographic in our town.
“What is wrong with competition anyway? All of us in business have to put up with competition and with the expected growth in Victor Harbor and the arrival of Coles, Bunnings and Aldi we are going to need more stores and service.
“It is difficult to understand why Telstra would take away a service that is unique to Victor Harbor. We as a business group are supporting a community-minded business operator. There should be a choice.”
Max said he was humbled by the response from the community.
“I am shocked, but thankful that so many people care about this business and my staff. There is also a petition in the community for Telstra to re-think its decision and it has more than 1000 signatures, so all this has been so supportive,” Max said.
“There are still many non-branded Telstra partners in regional SA and I do not really understand why we have been singled out.”
Telstra’s SA general manager Mark Bolton said local licensees of the Telstra store at Victor Central Shopping Centre, Stuart Wells and Tom Hamilton, employ local staff and are also members of Business Victor Harbor.
“Stuart and Tom have made the decision to not only make their presence in the Victor Harbor Shopping Centre permanent, but also to undertake a significant financial investment to expand the store and increase the range of products and service offered. We strongly believe this new store will enhance the service we can provide to local residents,” Mr Bolton said.
“We are currently in discussions with the Office Shop to explore any other viable arrangements which may be available to the parties after the formal agreement comes to an end. These discussions are ongoing and have not been finalised at this stage.
“Through having a Telstra branded store presence in Victor Harbor for four years, we are well aware of the demographics of the local region. Nationally, Telstra initiates and implements many activities to provide technical support and advice to older residents. These programs are free and help seniors increase their technical knowledge and confidence on using smartphones and tablets as well as social media sites like Facebook.”