THE fruit fly outbreak in Tasmania was the last straw for a Coastal business which closed its doors last week.
That’s according to the distressed owners of failed fruit and vegetable business Feelin’ Fruity.
Dean and Jo Bucknell, of Spreyton, said a combination of factors contributed to the closure of the family-owned business but the fruit fly outbreak was the last straw.
A visibly upset Mr and Mrs Bucknell said the business is still profitable and if it could have traded until Christmas perhaps it could have been lifted out of its bad situation.
Mr Bucknell said the business could not absorb a 50 per cent drop in revenue due to the fruit fly incursion when trading restrictions were imposed.
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“The shops just died,” Mrs Bucknell said.
Mrs Bucknell wiped away tears as she thanked people for their support over the years.
“We’ve closed the shops so I feel sorry for all our staff and landlords - what could we do. It’s very sad,” she said.
“We just want to thank everyone, all our staff and customers.”
In response to claims that staff were underpaid and did not receive full superannuation entitlements, Mr Bucknell said a couple of years ago Fairwork Australia conducted an audit and a payment plan was put in place.
He said a big portion was paid off.
Mrs Bucknell said the couple started the Feelin’ Fruity business from scratch and purchased the Woolworths Arcade store in Devonport in 2011 from her brother, Nigel Squibb, when he was about to close it.
The couple bought the Spreyton Fruit Market from the receiver in 2013 and started the wholesale aspect of Feelin’ Fruity out the back.
Due to rapid growth a new cool shed was leased at East Devonport but zoning restrictions meant the business could not operate before 7am and after 4pm.
“We fitted it out in cool rooms and then we had to strip it out and we were there six months,” Mr Bucknell said.
Mr Bucknell said opening the shop at Shearwater was a bad move and happened too quickly.
“We worked hard and kept the supermarket honest,” Mrs Bucknell said.
“After we closed on Wednesday night on Thursday bananas went from $2.49 to $4.49.”
Tasfresh confirmed it purchased minor aspects of the wholesale business and could employ three or four staff.
- This story first appeared on The Advocate.