Willenhall-based Blakemore to sell off all 12 of its cash & carry stores
Black Country-based Blakemore, the family-owned food distribution and SPAR supermarket company, has announced it is to sell off its 12 cash & carry depots.
The move to sell off the dozen "as going concerns" should see most of the depots' 520 workers moving to whichever company buys them.
But problems could arise if a buyer did not want to continue operating all 12 sites.
The news was broken to staff yesterday.
The cash & carry stores includes branches in Wolverhampton and Willenhall.
The AF Blakemore & Son group said in a statement that the move followed "a strategic review".
Joint group managing director Geoff Hallam said: "The move away from the cash & carry sector will allow the company to invest further across its wider business and focus its future strategy upon its remaining divisions, as it continues to drive innovation within the retail and wholesale distribution sectors.
"The company has now informed colleagues and will support all 520 of those impacted throughout this process.
"Further information will be provided as the situation progresses over the coming weeks.
The shock move comes after the company celebrated its centenary last year.
Arthur and Harriet Blakemore founded their grocery store in Merridale Street, Wolverhampton, in 1917. It has grown to become one of the UK’s largest privately owned family businesses.
From its base on the Longacres Industrial Estate in Willenhall, the company has a food logistics business operating nationwide, employing more than 8,000 people and with a turnover of £1.3 billion. It supplies more than 1,000 SPAR stores in England and Wales – 288 owned by the Blakemore business itself.
Blakmore remains family owned with the third and fourth generations of the family leading the company.
As well as 166,000 sq ft of warehouses in Willenhall it has another 84,000 sq ft in Great Bridge, as well as sites in East Sussex and South Wales.
The dozen cash and carry stores are in Willenhall, Wolverhampton, Saltley, Newport, Cardiff, Swansea, Bangor, Middlesborough, Humberston in Lincolnshire, Gateshead, Newcastle upon Tyne and Barnsley.
They comprise the Blakemore Wholesale business, which is one of nine businesses within the Blakemore group.
As well as running and supplying SPAR stores, its Foodservice arm is one of the UK's largest suppliers of catering products to schools, local authorities, public houses, restaurant chains and the leisure industry.
Its Fresh Foods arm is an international meat trading, wholesaling and manufacturing operation that supplies the retail, food service and wholesale sectors, while it also has a Fine Foods arm supplying farm shops, cafes, restaurants, hotels and garden centres.
It even has its own store design and shopfitting business.