Waitrose and Partners has announced it is to axe seven stores, leaving 677 jobs at risk.
The retailer said it has exchanged contracts for the sale of four shops to other parties, including discount grocer Lidl, which will acquire the group’s Bromley, Oadby and Wollaton stores. The party acquiring Waitrose’s Sandhurst store has asked not to be named at this time.
Additionally, the retailer will also be closing a further three shops in Marlow, Stevenage, and Waterside, British Airways Headquarters, near Heathrow. It said the details of the arrangements are “not yet finalised”, but the expectation is that the shops will close in autumn of this year.
The 677 staff members working at these shops will now enter a period of consultation, and as part of this Waitrose & Partners said it will “explore opportunities” within the partnership for those who wish to remain with the business.
Waitrose and Partners director of shop trade, Mark Gifford, 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.”