Wednesday 16 September 2020 2:38 pm

Waitrose axes 124 jobs amid closure of unprofitable stores

Waitrose has announced plans to axe four unprofitable stores, putting 124 jobs at risk. 

The supermarket said it will close shops in Caldicot, Ipswich Corn Exchange and Shrewsbury, while a fourth branch in Wolverhampton will be sold to Tesco.

Waitrose said today that trading at the stores had been “challenging” and it had not found a way to make the sites profitable in the long-term.

The Caldicot, Ipswich Corn Exchange and Shrewsbury stores will close on 6 December, while the last day of trading for the Wolverhampton site will be 31 December. 

In total, 124 employees have been put at risk of redundancy but the 140 workers at the Wolverhampton store will be transferred to Tesco. 

Waitrose, which ended its online delivery partnership with Ocado earlier this month, said it anticipated that there will be opportunities to open new stores in other areas.

The company, which is owned by the John Lewis Partnership, said employees with two years’ experience at risk of redundancy will be eligible to receive a retraining fund to secure a new qualification. 

Partners who have worked at the business for longer than a year will receive an enhanced payout on top of statutory redundancy pay, equating to two weeks of salary for each year of service. 

Those that have less than one year of service with the firm will be entitled to a tax-free payment equivalent to a week’s contractual salary. 

John Lewis Partnership executive director of customer service Bérangère Michel said: “Closing any of our shops is always a last resort and is not a reflection on the dedication of our partners in Caldicot, Ipswich Corn Exchange, Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton.

“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. 

“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.”