END OF AN ERA: The Big W Distribution Centre on East St will close in 2023 when the company’s lease is up.
END OF AN ERA: The Big W Distribution Centre on East St will close in 2023 when the company’s lease is up.

REVEALED: Developer snaps up Big W Distribution Centre

A MELBOURNE-BASED company has bought the Big W distribution centre on East St, after the shock announcement last year it would close its doors.

Pelligra, a developer known to acquire and regenerate large industrial buildings, said it would work with the Southern Downs Regional Council in an attempt to retain existing jobs and boost the local economy.

Graham Hemingway, of Gill Property in Melbourne, sold the property on behalf of previous owner Genox and will work with Pelligra to lease out the site.

"The site was sold alongside another asset in Goulburn with a combined price of $64.4 million all up," he said.

"With the lease set to finish up in 2023, the previous owners decided to sell both assets rather than regenerate them."

Mr Gill said the fate of the site was unknown, as Pelligra woudn't seek new tenants for another 18 months.

"They will lease it up again and as it's a very large building they will be looking to have it sectioned up and multi-tenanted," he said.

"However, I doubt it will be anything crazy like a roller rink."

Developing company Pelligra Group has in the past acquired numerous large-scale manufacturing and distribution buildings to subdivide for lease.

Recently the company acquired the old General Motors Association building in Adelaide, now occupied by three small-scale manufacturing groups.

Mr Gill said the sale was settled two weeks ago and throughout the process the group had worked closely with the council.

Mayor Tracy Dobie said she was optimistic the sale would bring jobs and growth to the region. "The council advocated and worked with interested parties since Big W advised they were going to vacate that premises last year," she said.

"It's really important the new owner has plans for the future of that building. It won't remain vacant after Big W has finished so it could serve as an opportunity to retain and attract local jobs."

Mr Gill said while there was no specific guarantee any new lessees would retain jobs in the centre, they were making efforts to hire locally. "They can't guarantee jobs be retained but every effort will be made to do so," he said.

However, Cr Dobie said job retention would rely solely on what businesses will lease out the site.

"If it's appropriate for employees to remain there then hopefully they will be offered opportunities but some won't want to stay," she said.

"We have been talking to them about what our ­interests are in retaining employment and ensuring a business move in there, what it will mean for the opportunities for incentives for new business to come to our ­region."