Waitrose has announced that seven of its stores will close by the autumn – putting almost 700 jobs at risk.
Employees or ‘partners’ working at stores will enter a period of consultation. In a statement, Waitrose said the details of the arrangements “are not yet finalised”, but the expectation is that the shops will close in the autumn.
Four of the seven shops earmarked for closure will be sold, while the remaining three will be shut altogether.
Mark Gifford, Waitrose & Partners Director of shop trade, 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 has currently has 344 shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands, including 61 convenience branches, and another 27 shops at Welcome Break locations.
Which Waitrose stores are set to close?
Waitrose & Partners has exchanged contracts for the sale of four shops to other parties:
• Bromley (its shop located in Burnt Ash Lane, it will continue to trade from its Bromley shop in Masons Hill), South East London • Oadby, Leicestershire • Sandhurst, Berkshire • Wollaton, Nottinghamshire
Bromley, Oadby and Wollaton are being acquired by Lidl; the party acquiring Sandhurst has asked not to be named at this time, Waitrose has said.
The retailer will also be closing a further three shops: • Marlow, Buckinghamshire • Stevenage, Hertfordshire • Waterside, British Airways Headquarters, near Heathrow