// Waitrose plans to close down 3 shops in December, affecting 124 staff
// The shops are located in Caldicot, Ipswich Corn Exchange and Shrewsbury
// A 4th shop in Wolverhampton will be sold to Tesco, with 140 staff to be transferred
Waitrose has announced plans to shut down three shops later this year while selling off a fourth site to Tesco.
The closure of the three stores, located in Caldicot, Ipswich Corn Exchange and Shrewsbury, places 124 staff at risk of redundancy.
Meanwhile, the 140 staff who work at Waitrose’s Wolverhampton store will transfer to Tesco once the sale is finalised.
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The announcements form part of an ongoing review of the Waitrose store estate, which began in 2017.
The grocer said it has found trading “challenging” in these four shops, and has not been able to find a way to make them profitable in the long-term.
Waitrose said it expected its Caldicot, Ipswich Corn Exchange and Shrewsbury stores will all close at the end of trade on December 6, and all 124 affected staff have entered a period of consultation.
Meanwhile, Waitose’s Wolverhampton store will close on December 31, with its 140 staff roles transferring under a Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment to Tesco.
Waitrose clarified that its Ipswich supermarket in Futura Park will remain open, and all four of the affected locations will continue to be served by its online grocery offering.
As part of the consultation process for staff at the Caldicot, Ipswich Corn Exchange and Shrewsbury stores, Waitrose said it would explore opportunities within the wider John Lewis Partnership for those who wish to remain with the business, including transferring to local Waitrose shops or working for the John Lewis or Waitrose ecommerce channels as they continue to grow.
Waitrose stressed that its shops “remain very important to our customers” and would continue to look for opportunities to open new stores.
The John Lewis Partnership added it would provide support to staff at Caldicot, Ipswich Corn Exchange and Shrewsbury at risk of redundancy through redundancy pay packages and a Retraining Fund.
This will contribute up to £3000 towards a recognised qualification or course for up to two years for any of the 124 employees with two years’ service or more.
They will also be given access to a three month support programme with an outplacement specialist to help with CV writing and interview skills.
“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,” John Lewis Partnership customer service executive director Bérangère Michel.
“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.”
The John Lewis Partnership previously committed more than £200,000 from its Partnership Community Investment Fund to help support those communities affected by the closures.
The fund is designed to help projects that support re-training and further education of local people and local projects that drive economic growth and support young people through training and helping to find employment.