20 May, 2021
New beginning for Clews News Woodford
CLEWS NEWS has undergone a changing of the guard, with Deepak Rawat and Ashish Patel taking over the reins of the Woodford newsagency on May 10.
The previous day marked the end of an era as Andrew and Marlene Clews had their last day of running the business, nearly 41 years after starting there.
Marlene recalled the date they started there: July 7, 1980.
While acknowledging that they had “big shoes to fill” in the wake of Andrew’s and Marlene’s retirement, Deepak and Ashish were pleased at how well things had started in their new venture.
“People have been very welcoming, and very supportive,” Deepak said towards the end of their first week.
“Everybody’s been so nice to us.”
Deepak and Ashish have resided in Australia for the past 13 years, with Deepak hailing from Chandigarh in northern India while Ashish hails from Gujarat in western India.
In unison, Deepak and Ashish said that Australia “feels like our second home”.
Although feeling some concern about the COVID-19 issues in their native country, Deepak and Ashish preferred not to focus too much on that, as they were quick to note that COVID-19 was an ongoing issue all around the world.
The duo moved to Australia to study Human Resources at Central Queensland University’s Brisbane campus, although they did not know each other until they met on their first day at university. But as they had plenty in common, having come from the same country, they instantly formed a strong bond.
“We clicked as friends, and our friendship kept growing,” Deepak said.
After finishing their university course, Deepak and Ashish gained employment in the supermarket industry. They worked mainly on Brisbane’s north side although they spent a couple of years in north Queensland, with Deepak living in Innisfail while Ashish lived in Cairns.
Deepak worked at Coles for 11 years while Ashish worked at Coles and Woolworths for six and five years respectively.
Deepak managed the grocery section for five years, while Ashish had a similar role at Woolworths for a similar length of time.
Deepak and Ashish felt that Brisbane was fairly multi-cultural, and that Australia was made up of all sorts of different cultures.
Burrito Bar Skygate DFO was the first business that Deepak and Ashish bought, with the duo working at the Brisbane Airport-based Mexican eatery for two years before seeking a change while remaining owners of the business.
“We wanted to get back to our roots, working in retail,” Deepak said.
“We’re very customer orientated.”
Although a newsagent wasn’t necessarily what Deepak and Ashish had in mind, Clews News appealed to them when they saw it was on the market.
“With this sort of shop, you make a bond with people,” Deepak said.
“(Compared to supermarkets), there’s a big difference in a good way.”
Deepak already deemed that taking on the reins at Clews News with Ashish was “the best decision we ever made”.
The former owners have helped the new owners settle in, with Andrew and Marlene on hand to offer advice and direction.
Having worked at National Australia Bank for nearly 20 years before working at Clews News for nearly 41 years, Andrew said: “I think it’s about time to retire.”
The Clews couple indicated that they had no major plans just yet, as they would take it easy for a start and do some work around the house.
As for their time working at the newsagency, Andrew and Marlene said: “We had a lot of fun.”
The Clews couple also said they would miss their customers in particular.
“After all that time, you know so many people,” Andrew said.
The Clews couple recalled starting with just one casual staff member for four hours each week, before having one permanent in addition to several casual staff.
Marlene was proud of the fact that they had 64 staff throughout their time at Clews News; Marlene and her husband saying that there were many favourable comments about the staff over the years.
The Clews couple also took part in other activities in Woodford over the years, with Marlene involved in the Scouts, Meals on Wheels, and the school P and C.
The last charter member of the Woodford Lions Club, Andrew was also the treasurer of the Golf Club for 14 years, having run the annual newsagency golf day since 1995 when Queensland first won the Sheffield Shield cricket competition.