Waitrose is closing seven stores – putting almost 700 jobs at risk – after the supermarket said it had not been able to find ways of making them profitable in the long-term.
The retailer, ranked Top50 in IRUKTop500 research, is selling shops in Bromley, Oadby, Leicestershire and Wollaton, Nottinghamshire, to Lidl, while an unnamed buyer is taking ownership of its store in Sandhurst, Berkshire. It is also closing its Marlow and Stevenage stores, as well as one close to the Heathrow headquarters of British Airways.
All are expected to close in the autumn, and the 677 staff working at the stores will be consulted, with the possibility that some may move to work elsewhere in the John Lewis Partnership.
Waitrose director of shop trade Mark Gifford said: ““We haven’t taken this decision lightly but we have to do what’s right for the business as a whole. Thanks to the hard work of all our partners we’re making good progress and Waitrose & Partners is on track for profit growth this year but, despite the best efforts of everyone involved, we haven’t been able to find a way to make these shops profitable in the long term.
“Our priority now is the wellbeing and future of our partners in these shops. We will do everything we can to support them and will explore opportunities for anyone wishing to remain with the Partnership.”
Waitrose & Partners currently sells online and from 344 stores in the UK, including 61 convenience stores and 27 at Welcome Break service stations.
The closures come at a time when many retailers are rethinking the size of their store estates as shoppers move more of their spending online.
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