A proposal from European supermarket giant Aldi to set up shop next to the Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets has the owners and most traders in a flap, but at least one major tenant is seeing the positives.
Aldi has teamed up with the owners of 11 Nyrang Street to develop the proposal which has a lengthy timeline, culminating in a 1750 square metre supermarket being established on the site in 2024. The site currently hosts a freighting and transport company.
The site’s zoning will need to change and local firm CommunicationLink has been engaged to undertake community and stakeholder consultation on behalf of the owners.
The Fyshwick market owners fear the proposal would steal customers and threaten the viability of the niche retail hub but Aldi says the establishment of a supermarket has the potential to transform the site around the area into a food shopping precinct – complementing not competing with the markets.
Aldi also says it will provide increased retail choice for the inner-south community, and to future residents within the East Lake area and Canberra Avenue corridor.
Part-owner of award-winning fruit and vegetable trader Ziggys, Ken Irvine, believes Aldi would be good for the markets, which would benefit from the customers the supermarket would attract.
“Every single customer who’s coming to the markets now already goes to a supermarket, and all they’re doing is making the supermarket more convenient for them to come to the markets,” he said.
“If you get to the supermarket and you’re shopping and the markets are right next door it’s got to be more inviting to go to the markets than if you’re 5 km away.”
But Wiffens manager Ruth Roxburgh, whose family are market part-owners, accused Aldi of being predatory, saying there was little residential density near the markets and the discount supermarket could easily use its market power to price out local traders such as bakers, butchers and delicatessens.
“We’re all independent locally owned businesses and if you take away some of our customers when we’re already only trading four days a week, that will affect the viability of our businesses, especially the smaller ones,” she said.
Ms Roxburgh said Aldi was not the right fit for what was always meant to be hub for independent traders and that there were already five supermarkets within 5 km of the markets, including one at Canberra Outlet Centre which was never supposed to have one.
“Having a multi-national supermarket right next to us is not really in keeping with what we’re about at all,” she said.
She said there were few small businesses such as delicatessens left in Canberra’s shopping centres and Canberra could potentially lose one of the last places where these kind of businesses had survived.
“The risk of damage to the markets is not worth any added convenience,” she said.
Ms Roxburgh said the markets were also concerned about the implications of a zoning change on parking and traffic in the area.
At this stage, the markets are calling on the public to support its cause during the consultation and are hoping that the proposal is short-lived.
Meanwhile, CommunicationLink has been conducting pop-up information kiosks with the next scheduled to be held at the Old Bus Depot Markets from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm on Sunday. Early community feedback is open until 25 March.
An Aldi spokesperson said the standard size store of about 1750 square metres would have plenty of onsite parking, and be staffed by a team of 15 to 20 full-time and part-time employees.
“Our intention is to trade side by side with the markets. This is why we started the community consultation process with the market owners. We think there is potential for some good synergies between the markets and the proposed Aldi store,” the spokeperson said.
At present, Aldi Jerrabomberra is under construction and the new store at Amaroo is being fitted out. Both stores will be opening in the coming months.
For more information go to the CommunicationLink website.