British supermarket chain Waitrose & Partners has announced the closure of seven stores in the UK putting nearly 700 jobs at risk.
Three of the Aldi stores – Bromley in London, Oadby in Leicestershire and Wollaton in Nottinghamshire – have been acquired by Lidl, with the party acquiring the Sandhurst store asking not to be named at this moment in time.
The remaining three shops in Marlow in Buckinghamshire, Stevenage in Hertfordshire and Waterside near Heathrow airport are expected to close in autumn 2019. There are 677 staff members working at these stores who will now enter a period of consultation and will discuss with Waitrose & Partners the opportunities for those who want to stay with the business.
Waitrose & 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.”
These latest closures follow the announcement in March that five Waitrose stores in Torquay, Teignmouth, Ashbourne, Blaby and Barry had been sold to competitors, affecting 440 employees.
Earlier this year John Lewis Partnership, Waitrose’s parent company, cut staff bonuses for the sixth consecutive year as a result of a decline in annual profits.