Bakery closure

Alleged $300k theft forces business closure

By Nasik Swami

After serving the community for more than three generations, Naracoorte’s very popular Morris Bakery has shut its doors after losing about $300,000 in alleged theft.

The bakery closed its doors on February 5, leaving the community devastated, with many lamenting the loss of a good old business.

It is alleged that a former employee embezzled the funds, liquidation documents have revealed.

Tarquin Koch has been appointed liquidator of the business by a South Australian Federal Court order on February 2.

Some members of the community have labelled the closure as a “massive part of Naracoorte that’s now gone”, expressing their worry about the town’s main street.

Upon contacting the bakery for a comment, The News was informed of its closure but was told that the owner, Bill Morris, was not ready to talk about it for now.

It is understood that SAPOL investigations have begun into the alleged theft.

While many other businesses have shut their doors for good for various reasons in a once thriving little town, the big question is, with plenty of regional growth going on, what’s happening to Naracoorte?

Discussing why some businesses are finding it difficult to keep their doors open, Naracoorte-Lucindale mayor Patrick Ross said business is “always difficult”, and many times, with generational businesses, it was difficult to keep going.

“I also know some other generational businesses, not in Naracoorte, but in other small regional towns that everyone would like to imagine that they would keep going, they deliver a very good service, but quite often, there is not enough generation within the family that wishes to take on the business and all the hard work,” Mr Ross said.

He said many of these businesses are built around family participation and hard work.

“Instead of family members doing the work, you have to employ more and more people, and the cost of production continues to go up, and your input, whether it be labour or material, continues to go up, making it more difficult for family operations to continue.

“We would love to think that generational family businesses could keep going, but the fact is, as times go by and generations become more, they lose touch with their roots and how the family got to where they are, and they move away.

“It is tragic, but something that happens from time to time.”

What can the council do to revive the business sector?

The mayor said the council does many things with ratepayer money.

“It’s about delivering services to the community—roads, of course, and rubbish—and then it’s about delivering community service.

“Our council, unlike many, is not involved in child care, it certainly does have a little involvement in aged care in Lucindale, but it’s not our core business.

“But what we are keen to do is help advocate for and facilitate business growth.”

He said the problem with small towns is that, with competition, people tend to move to larger stores because of product variety.

“I suppose also that one must consider the competition, and competition is a healthy thing. What also happens within society is that, once the needs of society change, the product line that they wish to purchase changes over time.

“It’s certainly important that businesses do market research and pick up on these slight changes over time.”

What needs to be done to stimulate the town’s growth?

Mr Ross said he has started to see the town specialise.

“Certainly, it is interesting to see, and I was having a chat with the CEO when this closure first came on the radar.

“We have started to notice certain areas of certain streets starting to specialise in services.

“So, suddenly, on Smith Street, we used to have a shoe shop, and then we have some medical, some chemist, Hertz, another chemist, and a medical centre, and on the other end, we have podiatry and a dentist, so those sorts of services that people need.

“Some of the product services, like bakery and coffee shops, have moved to the other side.

“Business is an interesting thing, and you need to be on top of where society is going to maintain profitability.”

For the town’s growth, he said nothing would please him more than seeing new businesses utilise the two shopfronts that remain vacant on the main street.

“I was talking to the Pakistanis, and they are working towards having a kebab shop open, so that’s something that will be different for the town, and hopefully that’s supported.

“Nothing would please me more if another business would come down and go into the former ANZ bank location to run a commercial business.

“So, one door closes, and many times another door opens because someone will see that as an opportunity.”

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