By Jon Whiteaker - 10:26AM - Thu 7th June 2012
Mutual retail & services business The Co-operative Group has today confirmed that the closure of two of its regional distribution centres based in the west of England will be completed in the next year.
The jobs of some 340 staff members currently working at the Chelston depot in Wellington, Somerset are currently in doubt ahead of its closure in November however all of the 350 workers currently employed at the other site in Portbury, Bristol, which will shut in April 2013, should be retained by the company.
Co-op is constructing a new £20 million distribution hub in Avonmouth, near Bristol which will open in September and will employ up to 900 members of staff across a site 435,750 sq ft in size.
All of the Portbury employees will transfer across to this new site under TUPE employment regulations, while Chelston workers will be given the option of working at the new Avonmouth centre or taking voluntary redundancy.
Mark Leonard, The Co-op’s Head of Logistics Service, said: “We are due to take delivery of our new state-of-the-art distribution facility at Avonmouth in September, and work to get the site up and running will start right away with a phased transfer of operations from the former depots.
“As previously announced, our new regional distribution centre will replace a number of existing smaller depots in the region, including Chelston and Portbury, and we hope as many staff as possible will transfer to Avonmouth.”
These latest closures form part of a wider restructuring of the group’s distribution network, initially announced in September 2010, which will see logistics experts Norbert Dentressangle manage the new Bristol depot.
Another site at Bridgwater in Somerset, which was run by supply chain firm Wincanton, closed last year. Portbury is also currently managed by Wincanton.
Commenting on the impending closures, Leonard added: “This in no way reflects the hard work and commitment of the staff at the two sites, whose performance has been exemplary, and we are working closely with all our employees and partners, who are affected by our proposals, to offer support and advice.
“We are also providing financial assistance for every employee who is entitled to take redundancy to help them find new work, retrain or learn new skills.”
Chelston depot will cease operations on Sunday November 25th 2012, while the Portbury centre will finally close on Sunday April 7th 2013.