Waitrose has announced plans to close four of its supermarkets before the end of the year, saying it has found "trading challenging" in those shops.
The locations in Caldicot, Ipswich Corn Exchange and Shrewsbury will be shuttered on 6 December, while the retailer says it has reached agreement to sell its market in Wolverhampton to Tesco and that store will end operations under the Waitrose name on 31 December.
“Closing any of our shops is always a last resort and is not a reflection on the dedication of our Partners," Bérangère Michel, Partner & Executive Director, Customer Service for the John Lewis Partnership, said. "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."
As for employees, Waitrose says 140 Partner roles at Wolverhampton will be moved under the Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment) to Tesco. Waitrose admitted "the 124 Partners that work in the three other shops are at risk of redundancy." They will enter a period of consultation, according to the retailer.
Waitrose will consider other opportunities for those want to remain with the business, including potential transfers to local Waitrose shops or working for johnlewis.com and waitrose.com.
“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," Michel said.
The John Lewis Partnership has committed to support Partners at Caldicot, Ipswich Corn Exchange and Shrewsbury through a retraining fund that will contribute up to £3,000 towards a recognised qualification or course for up to two years for any of the 124 Partners 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.
Partners who have worked with the business for more than a year will be entitled to redundancy pay, which equates to two weeks’ pay for every year of service.