BIG W prepares Monarto workforce for 2021 closure

THE BIG W Distribution Centre at Monarto is preparing its workforce for change as the company sets to wind up operations next year.

Announced in April 2019, the Monarto distribution centre closure comes as part of a review by the Woolworths Group which reported the decision would help turn around current business processes for better viability.

Big W Monarto supply chain manager Michael Rogers said the Monarto site currently hasjust over 170 team members all set to finish up by the end of July, 2021.

"Our work force will be finishing up in 2021, our lease is up July 29, however most of the team will finish towards the end of May," he said.

However, Mr Rogers said a number of initiatives had been put in place in help its current workforce for when the doors at the site are shut.

"We understand the change will have a big affect to the team but also the wider community ... we won't have an operation here but we want to make sure we do the best for our team and the community," he said.

Mr Rogers said staff were actively going through foundation modules with consulting partners "about setting foundations and mindset for change".

"We are doing sessions around resume writing and interview skills .... we also have a series of one-on-ones with the team and are working at identifying transferable skills and potential job prospects.

"We also working hard around networking and coaching the team on technology and introducing new platforms and assisting the team to sign up to recruiters or online platforms.

"And we extend that to information sessions on self employment small business and liaise with places like TAFESA for information on licensing courses and help the guys connect with training providers.

"Every Big W team member has been given access to a $2000 training grant that, should they complete a training course or ticket, they can use to help cover costs," he said.

In February, BIG W is aiming to connect with a variety of different businesses to hold a Job Fair for the exiting workforce to explore job prospects.

Mr Rogers paid tribute to the "hard workers" at Monarto.

"What we have is a long and tested workforce ... we have plenty of reliable people who come with a good reference," he said.

"The distribution is shutting due to a change of strategy for its supply chain network, as we work to be a purpose led digital retailer, support by a strong store network, it's not a reflection of the distribution centre or its operations and teams."

"We say a massive thank you to all of the local businesses, our team members and former team members for contributing to the success of the business."

Following the announcement of the closure in 2019, then RDA Murraylands and Riverland chief executive Jo Podoliak said the shutdown would impact the state economy to the tune of $32 million..

"While the closure is disappointing, the Murraylands region has experienced challenges of this nature before and proved to be resilient in the face of adversity," Ms Podoliak said.

Rural City of Murray Bridge Mayor Brenton Lewis said the loss of employment would affect a range of people of various ages and skill sets.

"We have been on a strong growth plane for the last decade, thankfully jobs have been created during that time and vacancies will continue," Mr Lewis said.