'Competitor influx' and 'economic decline' burden city's light industrial areas

Industry experts: Peel Chamber of Commerce general manager Andrew McKerrell and Peel Development Commission chief executive officer Andrew Ward. Photos: Caitlyn Rintoul/File image.
Industry experts: Peel Chamber of Commerce general manager Andrew McKerrell and Peel Development Commission chief executive officer Andrew Ward. Photos: Caitlyn Rintoul/File image.

Mandurah's light industrial businesses are facing "challenging times" with a decline in local economic activity and an increasing influx of competitors, according to industry experts.

Peel Chamber of Commerce general manager Andrew McKerrell said businesses were facing several hardships, including infrastructural limitations and encroachment threats.

"The majority of the hardship issues raised with the chamber in recent times relating to our light industrial areas consist of infrastructural challenges such as parking and logistical limitations, limited space to expand operations and utilities such as water and power. These are also accompanied by challenges relating to a decline in local economic activity and an increasing influx of competitors," Mr McKerrell told the Mail.

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"With specific regard to light industrial and trades-based businesses, the three major threats that have been voiced to us by small businesses.

"[These include] encroachment of outer region competitors, severe undercutting on tenders and quotes, and an influx of poor quality products from international sources.

"As our economy continues to stagnate, competition continues to rise.

"While competition can be a good thing for a consumer-driven market, it can become dangerous when businesses are forced to choose low-quality products, cut wages and staffing levels, and make further reductions just to stay in the game."

Industry and business alike are finding it tough to operate in the current economic climate and Mandurah's light industrial areas are currently at capacity

Peel Development Commission chief executive officer Andrew Ward

Mandurah councillors have committed to review their support for light industrial businesses in the city after concerns were raised over their viability.

Coastal Ward councillor Fred Riebeling brought the matter to the attention of his fellow elected representatives after he was approached by a number of struggling businesses.

He went as far as to introduce a motion to "fully investigate" the City of Mandurah's current measures to activate light industrial areas, stating "regeneration" was needed in the areas finding it tough.

Mr Riebeling's motion was unanimously supported by council and a report will be prepared by the economic development team. Cr Riebeling, particularly, highlighted the site between Mandurah Terrace and Mandurah Road.

Mr McKerrell said while he did not have any businesses in the specific area as members the chamber was looking for them to join.

"We would love to have them join us though. We can assist in advocating for them on this issue," Mr McKerrell said.

Coastal Ward councillor Fred Riebeling, particularly, highlighted the site between Mandurah Terrance and Mandurah Road. Photo: Google Maps.

Coastal Ward councillor Fred Riebeling, particularly, highlighted the site between Mandurah Terrance and Mandurah Road. Photo: Google Maps.

"A solution I would encourage would be to entice a few unique, like-minded and complementary businesses to move into these spaces, and create a hub.

"Business clustering has been a successful model in the past, for example; the automotive industry and car yards.

"For a consumer, to have multiple options in close proximity to each other can be a huge drawcard.

"This is evident in the Cockburn Home Centre, and with the current businesses in some of these locations, a Mandurah Home Hub could be one to consider.

These are also accompanied by challenges relating to a decline in local economic activity and an increasing influx of competitors.

Peel Chamber of Commerce general manager Andrew McKerrell

"This would also have to be accompanied by highly competitive leasing rates, considerable marketing campaigns to build the location as a destination based on its purpose, and other incentives to draw these businesses either into the region or from their current commercial premises which might not be conducive to their industry."

Peel Development Commission chief executive officer Andrew Ward said the Peel Business Park was an ideal solution to space limitations within the city.

"Industry and business alike are finding it tough to operate in the current economic climate and Mandurah's light industrial areas are currently at capacity, which presents further challenges for businesses operating in these areas as well as those looking to expand operations or move into light industrial premises," he said.

"The Peel Business Park, however, represents an alternative location and a way to alleviate this situation."

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Follow Caitlyn Rintoul on Twitter via @caitlynrintoul.