October 28, 2020

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British supermarket Waitrose to close four stores; 124 jobs at risk

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LONDON, Sept 16 (Reuters) – British supermarket chain Waitrose, part of the employee-owned John Lewis...

LONDON, Sept 16 (Reuters) – British supermarket chain Waitrose, part of the employee-owned John Lewis Partnership , plans to close four stores in December because it cannot make them profitable, it said on Wednesday.

The stores are in Caldicot, Wales; Ipswich Corn Exchange, eastern England; and Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton in central England. The Wolverhampton store is being sold to market leader Tesco.

Waitrose said 124 employees, or partners as it calls them, face the risk of redundancy, while 140 workers in the Wolverhampton store will transfer to Tesco.

“Sadly, we have not been able to find a way to make these shops profitable in the long-term,” said Bérangère Michel, the partnership’s executive director of customer service.

The Waitrose closures follow a July announcement from the partnership’s department stores arm that it would close eight stores, putting 1,300 jobs at risk.

After the closures, Waitrose will trade from 331 stores – 272 supermarkets and 59 convenience stores.

The partnership is scheduled to publish half-year results and update on strategy on Thursday.

Chairman Sharon White is expected to confirm plans to invest heavily in e-commerce, with the department store business becoming 60% online, from 40% before the coronavirus pandemic.

The group is also expected to make a big push to diversify into financial services, gardening, housing, and the renting of products. (Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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