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It looks like Thomas Dux is the next problem for Woolworths


It’s not quite a Masters-scale disaster, but Australian supermarket giant Woolworths is having problems with another of its retail brands: Thomas Dux, the high-end grocer.

Woolworths is not renewing the leases on three of its stores in affluent areas of northern Sydney: Lane Cove, Crows Nest, and Hornsby. It is also closing its Port Melbourne store.

Thomas Dux is a small part of the overall Woolworths business, which has been in turmoil over the past year and is currently without a CEO. Chairman Gordon Cairns has said he wants to focus energy on the core parts of the business.

Lane Cove, a leafy surburb in the heart of Sydney’s lower north shore, was the site of the first Thomas Dux to open in 2008. The chain, which at one point had 11 stores in operation, offers gourmet produce like oils, cheeses, and high-end fresh goods.

The company confirmed to the North Shore Times that it planned to shut four of its Thomas Dux stores this year following a review of the operation “as part of our broader small store strategy”.

The North Shore Times also reported that organic food retailer About Life, which started in the Sydney inner-west suburb of Balmain, would be taking over the leases from Thomas Dux.

The company is trialling Thomas Dux aisles in some Woolworths supermarkets.

Woolworths has had a year to forget, seeing board upheaval and the departure of its CEO, Grant O’Brien, last September. Last month, the company confirmed it was dumping its under-performing hardware business, Masters, which was running losses of around $200 million a year.

It was reported last year that Woolworths had offered Thomas Dux up for sale, with the price tag in the $10 million to $20 million range. At this rate, there might not be much left to sell.

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