Clas Ohlson to close all but one UK stores

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One hundred and fifty jobs have been placed in jeopardy as Clas Ohlson announced plans to close all but one of its UK stores.

The 100-year-old Swedish hardware store retailer, which also sells home, leisure and electrical products, revealed that it was continuing to see significant losses in the UK.

After reporting an operating profit drop of 74 per cent to £2.88 million, the retailer said it would close its loss-making stores in the UK, and four loss-making stores in Germany.

Its store in Reading will be the only store in the UK to continue trading.

It still trades from 227 stores across Norway, Sweden and Finland, and sales outside of this region reportedly only account for three per cent of sales.

“We have decided to focus on an online strategy in the UK, as we feel it is the best way to successfully continue in a market that we’re committed to being a part of,” acting UK country manager Jon Peacock said.

“In recent years, we’ve been working on a digital transformation plan and our online business has gone from strength to strength. It’s clear that online, where people can get access to our entire product range, is how our customers like to shop with us.

“We have no plans to withdraw our UK e-commerce operations, and our physical store, in Reading, will remain open. Our German online business will also be managed and operated from our UK base, along with potential new European markets in future.

“Our UK HQ will be relocated so that we can be better positioned for this new development and we’ll be looking at a revised organisation structure for the future including a number of new roles in specialist digital and Ecommerce areas.”

The retailer predicted a one-off cost from the store closures of £18.3 million, but it expected a positive effect on earnings of £6.5 million after the stores are closed.

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