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Tony Douglass

Deputy General Manager, Tony Douglass

WA Day celebrations come this year as our 191-year-old Swan River colony emerges from some of the most extraordinary months in its history.

We couldn’t have begun to imagine what we were in for this time last year:  Our city, Perth, plunged into quiet as office buildings and retail stores closed; social venues shut down and vibrant evening parties and sporting events ceased.  Most planes were grounded; public transport was abandoned; cars stayed in garages; schools lost their students; and, families hunkered down to escape the world’s invisible enemy.

Perhaps this year’s WA Day celebrations should be a little more meaningful, considering that we’re coming out of this crisis sooner and in better shape than most other centres around the world. Happy WA Day us!

Having said that, the COVID-19 scare has still left a swathe of destruction, despite our relative good health. There’s a long road to full recovery and it remains an incredibly uncertain time for individuals and businesses alike – including the team at Joyce Kitchens.

Joyce Kitchens’ history dates back to the 1880s and still, today, 25 local families rely on the cabinetmaking icon for their livelihoods.

Joyce Kitchens Deputy General Manager Tony Douglass was in New Zealand when the reality of the virus hit. He came home to 14 days in isolation. For a couple of weeks, business continued to hold up, but then quite suddenly it ‘stopped’.

‘Everybody stopped placing orders, customers were fearful, they weren’t wanting designers and tradies in their homes,’ Tony said.

‘It was very hard because small to medium-sized business such as ours operate in a very competitive landscape and generally have very tight cashflow.

‘It very quickly got to the point that unless there was some relief available, we faced having to close our doors.’

Tony says the Federal Government’s JobKeeper payments were critical to the business’s operations being able to continue through COVID-19.

‘The pain we would have felt as a society in general would have been enormous if it wasn’t for this package. It’s been a lifesaver,’ he said.

‘We’ve learnt so much through this challenge and are improving our efficiencies and the ways we do things.  And now as we’re emerging from the worst of it all, we’re certainly seeing fresh opportunities.

‘People have just spent a lot of time at home and this year, rather than spending $20,000 on an overseas holiday – because of course they can’t – they’re spending that money towards their kitchens, bathrooms, laundries, robes and studies.

‘What’s really great is that they’ll have more than just photographs to show for that money and life at home will be even better for many years ahead!

There’ll be no place like home.’

Housing Industry Association (HIA) chief economist Tim Reardon said the COVID-19 economic down turn would be shallower in WA than in other jurisdictions, as there is pent up demand for housing.

‘We’ll see a slowdown in housing transactions, but the renovation activity before and after home sales will be ongoing as people stay put and upgrade their homes instead of moving house,’ Mr Reardon said.

While Joyce Kitchens’ Tony Douglass has lived in centres throughout Australia and overseas, now, more than ever, he says he’s glad WA is home.

‘We are an island, we were able to close the borders and have come through COVID amongst the best in the world and I think we should be able to get back to normal life quite quickly,’ he said.

‘Every time that we support a local business we’ll be helping that recovery, by keeping money in the State and thereby boosting local employment, job security, families and businesses.

‘That way WA can emerge stronger and more resilient into the future.’

Joyce Kitchens has showrooms in Osborne Park, Booragoon and its new flagship store is now open at 1 Leura Ave in Claremont.

For more information, call Joyce Kitchens Communications Manager Sonia Voigt on 0413 076 205.