East Albury IGA store quickly rising from ashes

Geraldine Mathews and her staff have been stacking away the liquor at the supermarket — until it reopens. Picture: JOHN RUSSELL
Geraldine Mathews and her staff have been stacking away the liquor at the supermarket — until it reopens. Picture: JOHN RUSSELL

BUILDERS will start work next week on the resurrection of the fire-ravaged East Albury IGA supermarket.

Its owners hope the supermarket — badly damaged by a deliberately lit fire on January 31 — can reopen within three months.

The last items of stock — bottles in the liquor department — were removed from the shelves yesterday.

Co-owner Geraldine Mathews said there was a sense of relief that the rebuild was about to start.

“It was great to hear yesterday that the insurance company had nominated the builders — that was really good news,” she said.

“We’re pleased local builders, electricians, painters and tradies have been employed.

“It is nice to know that the money will go back into our town.”

The Borella Road supermarket has been closed since the fire.

It was lit in bins at the back of the store just after midnight and spread to the roof of a storeroom, destroying about 20 per cent of stock.

Fifty casual workers lost their jobs.

The 30 full-time staff have been working at the Mathews’ other supermarkets and helping with the clean-up.

Mrs Mathews said a lot of effort had gone into the clean-up.

“It’s been almost three weeks and it’s just been solid work,” she said.

“Restoretec, the local company doing the clean-up, has employed a lot of our casual staff, as well as other full-time staff.”

Mrs Mathews said the supermarket’s shelving had been cleaned and packed away, ready to be reinstalled when the builders finished.

“When we built here 10 years ago, the timeframe was a finish of May 17 — that’s about what we are looking at now,” she said.

Mrs Mathews said her family’s landlords had been easy to work with since the fire, as had the insurance company.

“We’ve just followed whatever our insurers have wanted us to do,” she said.

“We’ve found the whole process to be as good as it could be.”

Mrs Mathews said staff had been buoyed by the news rebuilding was about to start.

“You really want to keep them as motivated and as organised as possible and not having to do just mundane work,” she said.

Mrs Mathews said the supermarket’s loyal customers were keen to see it reopen.

“You walk out the front and you run into customers who wish us all the best,” she said.

“A lot of them are quite disadvantaged, especially those who don’t have travel options to go elsewhere.”

Mrs Matthews said the family had organised home delivery from their Springdale Heights store for customers at the Murray Gardens Retirement Village. This could also be arranged for other customers.