More than 120 jobs are at risk after Waitrose confirmed proposals to close its Newcastle city center store amid “challenging” trading conditions.
The store opened 14 years ago in Newcastle’s Eldon Square shopping center and has proved popular with city workers and locals as well as visiting shoppers. However, owner John Lewis Partnership has now confirmed that the Newcastle and Croydon store are both earmarked for closure, putting jobs at risk.Read:Martin Lewis fan ‘hasn’t needed heating’ since smart £47 purchase
A total of 123 staff – which the company calls ‘partners’ – have been affected in Newcastle, with 70 reportedly affected in the Croydon store. The company said the store will close on November 12, pending consultations with its partners who work there, and the announcement will not affect the John Lewis department store in Eldon Square.
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The company said: “We have found trading here challenging in recent years and despite Partners’ best efforts, we have not been able to make the store profitable in the long run.
“Our priority is our 123 Partners who work in the store and who are now entering a period of consultation. They are fully supported throughout the process.Read:Shoppers use £24 ‘premium’ Aldi’s instead of central heating
“If the proposed closure goes through, every effort will be made to find new roles for those who wish to remain within the partnership. Opportunities include switching to local Waitrose stores or working for johnlewis.com and waitrose.com. Newcastle will continue to be served by waitrose.com if the closure is confirmed.”
Waitrose said it is committed to providing support to partners at risk of being made redundant and that the retraining fund will contribute up to £3,000 towards a recognized qualification or course for up to two years for any partner with two years’ service or more made redundant. .
They would also gain access to a three-month support program with an outplacement specialist to assist with resume writing and interviews.
It also said that in addition to statutory severance pay, Partners who have worked with the company for more than one year would be entitled to a severance payment from the Partnership, which is equivalent to two weeks’ pay for each year of service, regardless of age. Those with less than a year of service will receive a tax-free payment equal to a week’s contractual wage.
James Allen, Head of Retail at Waitrose, said: “We realize that the proposed closure is very sad news for our Eldon Square customers and partners who work there, who have worked so hard. When we first came here 14 years ago opened, we intended to stay here for many years to come, but unfortunately we have found trading a challenge for a while.The future and well-being of our Partners is our priority and we will do everything we can to help them in the coming months of support.”Read:Foxconn offers $1,400 payout to quell protests at China iPhone plant
Waitrose has several other stores in the North East, in Ponteland, Hexham and Jesmond.