Future of Kaufland’s Braybrook site unclear

Kaufland had plans to set up a number of stores across Victoria. (Supplied)

By Tate Papworth

The future of the Braybrook site earmarked to be part of German supermarket giant Kaufland’s foray into Australia remains unclear.

Kaufland had lodged an application with the state government to open a store at  81 – 85 Ashley Street, Braybrook.

The application was one of nine lodged in September to be reviewed by an independent panel.

But on Wednesday the company did a major backflip and withdrew from its planned Australian operations.

In a statement, Kaufland said that after careful consideration, it has decided to undertake an orderly withdrawal from the Australian market and concentrating on its European markets in the foreseeable future.

The company said its existing Australian investments, including properties purchased for retail outlets and distribution infrastructure, will be discussed with the relevant parties in coming days.

Just four months ago the company said it was looking “forward to creating thousands of jobs and creating opportunities for local businesses” but on Wednesday its acting chief executive Frank Schumann was apoloigising for any inconvenience caused.

“This was not an easy decision for us. We always felt welcome in Australia. We would like to thank our employees and we apologise for the disruption this decision will cause,” Mr Schumann said.

“We would also like to thank our business partners, who offered us great support over the last few years.

“We would also like to thank the government for being very open-minded to our projects.”

The company had already begun work on a $459 million investment to build its distribution centre and headquarters at Merrifield Business Park in Mickleham.

However in a post made to its Facebook account, Merrifield Business Park representative said Kaufland’s decision was news to them.

“This afternoon we have become aware of media reports detailing Kaufland’s intention to withdraw from the Australian market,” the post said.

“As you may know, Kaufland is in the process of acquiring land at Merrifield upon which they are currently building its proposed distribution facility. Kaufland has not yet advised us of its plans for the Merrifield facility.”