Waitrose closures: Four branches to close this year, with one of its biggest supermarkets becoming a Tesco
Waitrose has announced the closure of four stores, including one of its biggest, after being unable to make them “profitable in the long-term”.
Three of the shops set to shut are in Caldicot, south Wales, Ipswich Corn Exchange, and Shrewsbury, while the retailer has reached an agreement to sell its supermarket in Wolverhampton to Tesco.
As many as 124 jobs are at risk in the first three branches – two of which are under the Little Waitrose convenience brand – while the 140 roles in Wolverhamption will transfer to Tesco under a job protection scheme.
Waitrose said the decision comes as part of an ongoing financial review that began in 2017.
“We have found trading challenging in these four shops and, despite the best efforts of Partners, we have not been able to find a way to make them profitable in the long-term,” said a statement.
A spokesman told i: “The stores were struggling before the [coronavirus] pandemic, but it accelerated the decision.
“The shops were financially challenged. It’s a difficult decision. We’ll do everything we can to save jobs and there will be opportunities of redeployment in some areas.”
It is expected that the sites in Caldicot, Ipswich, and Shrewsbury will close on 6 December, where redundancy consultations will take place.
The Wolverhamption branch will close on 31 December and is expected to become a Tesco in May 2021.
Waitrose added in its briefing: “Despite today’s news, Waitrose shops remain very important to our customers and will also be some areas where we see opportunities to open new shops.”
The John Lewis Partnership has also made a commitment to provide support to those Partners at Caldicot, Ipswich Corn Exchange, and Shrewsbury who are at risk of redundancy through a retraining fund.
The business said the fund will contribute up to £3,000 towards a recognised qualification or course for up to two years for any of the 124 Partners with two years’ service or more.
Bérangère Michel, executive director for the John Lewis Partnership, said: “Closing any of our shops is always a last resort and is not a reflection on the dedication of our Partners in Caldicot, Ipswich Corn Exchange, Shrewsbury, and Wolverhampton.
“Sadly, we have not been able to find a way to make these shops profitable in the long-term, despite the hard work of everyone involved.
“Our priority now is the wellbeing and future of our Partners in these shops. We will do everything we can to support them and explore opportunities wherever possible for those who may wish to remain with the Partnership.”