22/07/2016 - 14:45

BHP closure creates Newman opportunity

22/07/2016 - 14:45

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Pilbara accommodation businesses run by one-time trucking boss Craig Mitchell and the Collinson family are set to be the winners from BHP Billiton’s surprise decision to close Kurra Village in Newman, which at its peak houses up to 1,600 fly-in, fly-out  workers

Tribute Group’s Whaleback Village in Newman will house BHP Fifo workers. Photo: supplied.

Pilbara accommodation businesses run by one-time trucking boss Craig Mitchell and the Collinson family are set to be the big winners from BHP Billiton’s surprise decision to close Kurra Village in Newman, which at its peak houses up to 1,600 fly-in, fly-out  workers

BHP announced yesterday it would close Kurra Village after a protracted dispute that pitted Nationals leader and Lands Minister Terry Redman against Premier Colin Barnett.

The mining giant’s decision amounts to a big win for Mr Redman, who argued that expanding Kurra Village and extending its lease would be detrimental to the development of Newman as a community.

It follows the appointment in March of Edgar Basto as BHP’s top iron ore executive in Western Australia, replacing Jimmy Wilson.

BHP confirmed today it would relocate employees and contractors from Kurra to third-party and other company-owned accommodation.

The closure will affect up to 500 Fifo operational workers and up to an extra 1,100 Fifo workers during maintenance shutdowns.

“The decision was made following a review that considered the best outcome for our employees, as well as commercial considerations,” BHP said.

“We are pleased to be able to engage a number of local Newman businesses as a result of this decision.”

BHP has offered contracts to the Collinson family’s Tribute Group, which owns Kalgan’s Rest and Whaleback Village, and Mr Mitchell’s Outback Network, which owns Capricorn Village.

BHP also plans to trial the use of company-owned flats in the centre of Newman, in addition to continued utilisation of its eco-units.

These facilities do not have common mess or recreational facilities, therefore employees will be provided meal and recreational facility access from local businesses.

Tribute Group operations manager Mairead Robertson said her family was really excited to be entering a long-term partnership with BHP.

“It’s also a great outcome for Newman, it means more integration into the town and the community and means there will be more use of local service providers,” she said.

Ms Robertson said Kalgan’s Rest had 540 accommodation units while Whaleback Village had 430 units.

She said all accommodation providers in Newman had struggled with low occupancy in recent times.

Tribute Group was established in 2002 when Ms Robertson’s parents, Wayne and Betty Collinson, moved to Newman to purchase and develop Whaleback Village, formerly known as Dearlove’s caravan park.

The business expanded in 2004 when it bought Kalgan’s Rest.

“We’ve invested a lot to make these facilities first-class,” Ms Robertson said.

Capricorn Village, with 325 rooms, is owned by Outback Network, which recorded total revenue of $3.6 million for the year to June 2015, according to its latest annual return lodged with ASIC.

The company’s executive chairman is Craig Mitchell, who sold trucking company Mitchell Corp to Toll Holdings in 2011.

Mr Mitchell also chairs Outback Labour Services, which owns and operates four modern roadhouses in northern WA offering fuel plus quality food and retail facilities.

It trades as Outback Travel Centres, Capricorn Bar & Grill, Capricorn Fuel Distributors and Outback Fuel Distributors. 

The Outback group has been pursuing rapid expansion, with backing from investors including Ian Middlemas (who is an alternate director of Outback Network) and Azure Capital

Outback Labour Services latest financial statements show the group had total revenue of $54.8 million for the year to June 2015, primarily from retail fuel sales.

The group’s growth has also been supported by Perth-based Acure Asset Management, established by former Aspen Group managing director Angelo Del Borrello,

Acure syndicates have acquired 80 per cent of Outback’s Newman and Carnarvon properties and 45 per cent of its Karratha property, and is due to acquire 49 per cent of its Port Hedland property this month.

 

 

 

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