More big changes in town as leading businesses get new owners
By Michael Sinclair-Jones
TOODYAY has undergone a major shift in local business ownership with the recent sale of the town’s only supermarket and at least one of its two remaining historic hotels.
The IGA store and Victoria Hotel have been bought by a Perth-based company which owns similar IGA stores in Glendalough, Darch and Meekatharra.
Freemasons Hotel owners John and Stella Pearce said their historic pub was currently under offer from business interests that The Herald understands may have Toodyay connections.Read more
Former IGA store and Victoria Hotel owners Dean Carter said he and wife Amanda sold their supermarket business and pub to focus more on local farming.
The Carters bought the Victoria Hotel six years ago with plans to spend at least $2.5 million to upgrade the run-down property, which reopened in 2019 after extensive renovations and the construction of new rear accommodation units.
Mr Carter said the couple had bought a second farm near Toodyay.
The IGA sale was for the business only – not the building and land which the couple retain, while the Victoria Hotel sale of land, buildings and business did not include an empty former tea shop next door, which the couple still own.
Mr Carter said he was 61 years old and wanted a change in direction.
“It was a big decision but money isn’t everything,” he said.
“We wanted something that was different and less busy.”
The new IGA store operator and Victoria Hotel owner is WA private company Guru Brothers Food and Liquor Merchant Pty Ltd.
The company secretary was overseas last month and unable to be contacted by The Herald for for comment.
New IGA store and Victoria Hotel General Manager Peter Douglas said the new owners were Australians who lived in Perth.
Mr Douglas said the new IGA store owners planned to modernise the supermarket and offer a bigger range of fresh products, similar to those at their “flagship” store in Darch.
Toodyay shoppers would be offered “a lot more fresh meat with more specials advertised locally on Facebook”, Mr Douglas said.
There will be more products on the shelves and a lot more WA fresh fruit and vegetables.
More gluten-free and vegetarian food would also be available.
However, there had been a delay in obtaining a Lotto licence to continue selling tickets from the store because the sale had gone through faster than expected.
The company had applied to Lotterywest in Perth but Mr Douglas said he did not know how long this would take to process.
The next nearest Lotto outlet is in Northam.
All IGA store staff had been retained under a company policy of continuing to employ local people.
The same applied at the Victoria Hotel, where Mr Douglas said all existing staff had been retained.
He said the new owners planned to develop the Victoria Hotel to “make it more of a local destination and central hub for the town”.
“We like Toodyay and think it has a great future,” he said.
“We want the town to grow.”
Toodyay Locals Care founder Roz Davidson said the IGA store’s new owners were continuing to donate food for local homeless people, without which the charity service could not survive.
The Herald was unable to contact potential buyers about the Freemasons Hotel sale.
One of Toodyay’s two hardware stores also changed hands last year, as did Wendouree Café which reverted to its original name after it was renovated and re-opened as Amy’s Café a few years earlier.