Waitrose shoppers shocked at announcement of Wolverhampton store closure

Shoppers in Wolverhampton have spoken of their shock and sadness after it was announced the city's Waitrose store would close at the end of the year.

Waitrose in Wolverhampton
Waitrose in Wolverhampton

The 140 staff members at Wolverhampton Waitrose, based off Penn Road, will transfer to Tesco.

Bosses have said the shop is closing as trading has been "challenging".

Other stores closing include three smaller branches in Shrewsbury, Caldicot and Ipswich Corn Exchange.

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."

But minutes after the announcement was made public, shoppers at the Penn Road superstore spoke of their sadness that the store would close later this year.

Shopper Graham Cass said he was devastated to see Waitrose close

Graham Cass, 62, from Perton, said: "I always shop here – I am devastated to see it close. I have been shopping here for four years.

"I shop here for the quality of food they sell, I always do my main shop here and it is always quite busy.

"I am very disappointed to hear it will close, I am really sorry to see it go. It's bad news for the city."

A Penn resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "I don't normally do my big shop here but the store has been so handy because of all that is going on, you can pop in. I'm very sad to see it go.

"It's very, very bad news that Tesco will take over, I find them rubbish. Waitrose can be overpriced but it is so near, it is really bad news. I am really disappointed.

"I think it gave us an upmarket supermarket in Wolverhampton. It is sad news."

Keith Kirkham, 64, who lives in the Goldthorn Hill area, said: "I shop at Waitrose as and when really.

"But I am shocked it is going to close. It is convenient for us to shop at. Between this one and Aldi we do our shopping, wherever I am.

"It's disappointing to hear that any business will close. It has just been so convenient for where I live. I suppose at least it will still be a supermarket!"

Jeszemma Howl said Waitrose was a nicer shopping experience because she did not feel herded. She also said it had a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere.

Jeszemma Howl, 46, from the Parkfields area of Wolverhampton, said: "We shop here regularly, we shop here once a week to get the nice stuff and we get our basics from Aldi.

"Waitrose just sell such different things to the other supermarkets so you can get a wider range of ingredients if you like cooking, the quality is different and it is just a nicer experience – you don't feel herded in, it is a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere.

"Especially with coronavirus there's more space. I'm gutted to hear it will close, it's the first I have heard about it.

"To me it feels like a bit of a treat, once a week I will come and spend £50 here on stuff that is just really nice for us.

"Certainly over lockdown, it has been one of the more pleasant places to be.

"They don't really have a large Tesco in the area. When I lived in Dudley, we used Tesco but I found it quite limited – and we would still come over here to go to Waitrose.

"Waitrose has its limitations, they don't give things away, there's no big deals like other places. I don't think I'll visit when it is Tesco."

Another anonymous Wolverhampton resident said: "I shop here every week. I was a bit shocked to see it closed on Wednesday morning actually. During lockdown this store has been very handy.

"I do shop at Tesco as well for some bits, but they don't always have what I want so I come to Waitrose."

Amanda Browning, 62, from Stourbridge, said she was really sad about Waitrose closing because it was ‘a really nice store’

Amanda Browning, 62, from Stourbridge, said: "I always shop here as I bring my mother who lives in Coseley. We come here often, on a weekly basis.

"I am really sad about it closing as it is a really nice store.

"I like the space in store, you are not crowded in the aisles especially with everything going on now and the selection is always wonderful.

"I probably won't be coming here if it is Tesco, as my mother won't.

"I'm really disappointed. I can still shop at the smaller Waitrose in Stourbridge."

Deanna Cherrington and daughter Aurora Downing-Cherrington, two,

However, Deanna Cherrington, 25, from Wolverhampton, said: "We would prefer Tesco actually!

"Tesco is a bit cheaper, you can get stuff in here [Waitrose] at a decent price, but not always.

"It has been convenient to shop here as it is only across the road from where we lived, so we have been using it for six years.

"Waitrose's fruit is much better than elsewhere, but you don't get as many offers."

Blakenhall Councillor Dr Paul Birch said: "This is a terrible blow to the community of Blakenhall, the city of Wolverhampton and the wider area.

"Whilst we welcome Tesco and look forwards to their presence, with due respect to our friends at Tesco they have hundreds of stores whilst there is only a couple of handfuls of Waitrose stores.

"Many of the things Waitrose stock are just not sold by other retailers.

"Waitrose have attracted shoppers from all over the West Midlands and Shropshire to their store here in Blakenhall.

"Customers are hardly likely to drive past several Tesco stores to get to this one.

"It's desperately disappointing, and a great pity they did not talk to us first to see if there was anything we could do."

Wolverhampton MP Pat McFadden added: "This is bad news for the retail offer in the city. This is an excellent supermarket that offered high quality products in a great location.

"But we all know that the retail sector is undergoing rapid change, something that Covid has accelerated in recent months.

"I have spoken to Waitrose today and asked them to consider some other presence in the city, even if it is in a smaller format store.

“I hope that as many of the staff who work in the current store are taken on by the new operators, Tesco when the change happens at the end of the year.”

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