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Waitrose to close five stores affecting 440 jobs

Waitrose has announced it is to close five stores affecting 440 jobs, following a 45% decline in annual profit at operator John Lewis.

The stores to close will be Torquay, Teignmouth, Blaby in Leicestershire, Barry in Vale of Glamorgan, and Ashbourne in Derbyshire. Grocery delivery firm Ocado recently dropped Waitrose in favour of M&S.

A spokesperson for the supermarket said the closures came as part of a regular review of its retail portfolio, and that the five stores earmarked for closure were chosen due to not being commercially viable. Waitrose says it is in consultation with staff who are looking to remain within the John Lewis Partnership business.

Operator John Lewis slashed its staff bonus down to 3% as it saw a “significant” operating profit decline in the year ending 26 January 2019, down £143.1m (55.5%) to £114.7m. Annual profit at the retailer fell from £292.8m down to £160m within a year.

Waitrose retail director Ben Stimson, said: “The sale of our shops is never something we take lightly, but we have accepted offers for them as it is sadly – despite the hard work of everyone involved – not commercially sustainable for us to continue trading from them in the long term.

“Our priority is our [staff] working in those shops who will be fully supported throughout the process and we will identify opportunities for those wishing to remain with the business wherever possible.”

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