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    A rendering of the Stawell store front
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New Horsham, Stawell OTR stations progress

By Sarah Scully

Recruitment is underway for about 85 jobs in Horsham and Stawell as popular South Australian retailer OTR prepares to become a major player in the Wimmera’s convenience market.

The new developments, comprising petrol stations and retail stores, will create more than 55 jobs in Stawell and 30 positions in Horsham when they open in the next four months. 

Wimmera leaders have welcomed the employment boost and increased business competition, with Northern Grampians Shire mayor Murray Emerson saying residents were eagerly anticipating the new addition to Stawell’s retail landscape. 

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“It is an exciting time for our community having OTR coming here, it is certainly something this community has been wanting for a number of years now,” he said.

“I think all of our community is getting very excited that we are going to have a 24-hour service station and retail convenience store.

“It’s like bringing a big city offer into a regional town centre.”

OTR head of community partnerships and PR Joann Skene said the Stawell store, set to open by its projected date in March next year, would be the largest and most innovative new store being built outside big cities across Australia. 

It will feature a BP service station featuring a ‘truckies lounge’ with showers and a laundry, a Hungry Jack’s, 24-hour retail, barista-made C Coffee and an automatic touchless car wash.

“Stawell will be the biggest OTR store in regional Victoria. It has a much bigger footprint than the others,” she said.

Ms Skene said because the outlet and its franchises remained entirely owned by OTR, they could ensure a high level of service and quality control. 

“Our model has high levels of accountability within the team and we recruit local people for this exact reason,” she said.

“All the work done during construction and the work on the ground once the store is open is with local people. We seek to fill the team with great people from the local region.”

Once open, the store will employ at least 55 staff across three shifts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

The development has already created 40 new trade jobs in both Stawell and Horsham during a construction phase.

Ms Skene said OTR would open its new 24-hour stores on the corner of Wilson and Darlot streets, and Dimboola and Wawunna roads, in February. 

OTR Horsham Wilson Street was originally due to open this month, but Ms Skene said the company pushed back the date due to a construction delay. 

Both stores will offer BP fuel, C Coffee, supermarket items, OTR’s Eat products and Moe’s Dog and Shake. The Wilson Street store will have an automatic car wash. 

Horsham mayor Mark Radford said it was exciting to have two new businesses set up shop in Horsham.

He said the council had worked through an extensive planning process with OTR to satisfy different requirements at both sites. 

“For the station opposite May Park we have worked with the company to ensure they can work in harmony with their next-door neighbours,” he said.

“For the one opposite Woolworths there have been some traffic management concerns worked through by both the council and VicRoads, which hopefully work well."

He said the council always tried to accommodate new businesses looking to make a home in the municipality. 

Ms Skene said both Horsham and Stawell communities would participate in the OTR community program, OTRGive, and might also benefit from more competitive petrol pricing. 

“In many areas where strong competition exists with independent operators, like OTR, local communities often see more competitive pricing and this will only mean good news for Horsham and Stawell,” she said.

Member for Lowan Emma Kealy said she would welcome a drop in fuel prices through increased competition.

“More competition usually brings down fuel prices and it’s something we’ve been chasing for a long time in the region,” she said. 

“The cost of living is putting pressure on families… if we can get some small reprieve when we fill up at the pump then all the better.”

Ms Kealy said OTR’s entry into the Wimmera was a positive one.

“The fuel stations represent a company putting its faith in our region,” she said.

The entire December 4, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!