Wolverhampton Waitrose store to be turned into a Tesco
Waitrose in Wolverhampton is set to be sold to Tesco – with the store closing down for good under its current name on December 31.
Waitrose has today announced plans to close four of its shops; the superstore in Wolverhampton, and three smaller branches in Shrewsbury, Caldicot and Ipswich Corn Exchange.
All 124 staff – or 'partners' as they're known across the company – at the smaller three shops are at risk of redundancy, while the 140 staff members at Wolverhampton Waitrose, based off Penn Road, will transfer to Tesco.
Bosses have said these particular shops are closing as trading has been "challenging".
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All affected staff will now enter a period of consultation. The Wolverhampton staff members have also been told they can explore opportunities to continue working for Waitrose, either at other shops or online, rather than transfer to Tesco.
Wolverhampton's store will close on December 31, while Shrewsbury and the other shops will close on December 6.
Bérangère Michel, executive director, customer service for the John Lewis Partnership at Waitrose, 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."
The news was announced to staff members this morning – shoppers arrived at the Penn Road store to discover the shutters were down, and they were not allowed in while the announcement took place.
A spokesman for Waitrose also added that support would be given to workers at risk of redundancy, including a contribution of up to £3,000 towards a qualification or course. They will also be given access to a three month support programme with an outplacement specialist to help with CV writing and interview skills.
As well as statutory redundancy payments, staff who have worked with the business for more than a year will be entitled to partnership redundancy pay, which equates to two weeks’ pay for every year of service, regardless of age.
Those with less than one year’s service who leave on grounds of redundancy will receive an ex-gratia tax-free payment equivalent to one week’s contractual pay.