Popular Gympie cafe closes amid RFG crisis
THE GYMPIE Central shopping complex has suffered a blow with the Michel's Patisserie cafe announcing its permanent closure amid a national crisis for franchise owner Retail Food Group.
Michel's Gympie, which traded alongside fellow RFG-owned stores Gloria Jean's and Donut King at the complex, closed permanently yesterday after being identified as "unsustainable" by the RFG due to high landlord rates and low foot traffic.
An RFG spokeswoman said the decision to shut down the doomed store was made as a result of a "whole of business review" conducted in conjunction with international accounting organisation Deloitte.
"The review identified between 160 to 200 domestic outlets which are unsustainable on a long-term basis and will cease trading before the end of June, 2019," she said.
"Some of these stores are corporate stores, meaning they're owned and operated by RFG.
"Michel's Gympie, a corporate store, was impacted by this review as it was unable to achieve the sales needed to continue operating successfully due to rent pressure and low foot traffic.
"Management and staff were advised yesterday of the store's closing and are currently being supported by RFG during this time."
The spokeswoman said the RFG would continue to work at negotiating "stress points" with franchisees looking to remain open into the future.
"It's important to note that we are not forcing anyone to close their store," she said.
"Franchisees with stores identified as being unsustainable have already indicated that due to rent pressures and declining shopping centre performance, they will not renew their lease.
"We remain committed to actively renegotiating rents with the landlords as this has been identified by our franchisees as a major stress point."
Leeanne Thompson, who owns the Gloria Jean's Gympie Central franchise with her sister Gail Gipp, said the store would "continue to trade" as normal.
"We're doing well and have no concerns for our business," Ms Thompson said.
Management at Donut King Gympie Central was unavailable for comment at the time of printing.
The RFG, which also owns Brumby's Bakery and Pizza Capers among other brands, has been embroiled in recent controversies pertaining to allegations of mistreatment and underpaying of staff.
Company stocks dropped to their lowest since 2008 when trading resumed last Monday.