Sainsbury's Merry Hill store shuts after 27 years
After serving customers for more than 27 years, the Sainsbury's store at Merry Hill has shut its doors for the final time, with nearly 200 staff losing their jobs.
Loyal customers expressed their devastation at the closure of the supermarket, which opened in October 1989, including those who have relied on it for their grocery shop every week for over two decades.
The decision to close the branch, which Sainsbury's has said was due to it 'underperforming' has resulted in the loss of 193 jobs.
It is the second major jobs blow to the shopping centre this year, after BHS closed in August with the loss of nearly 100 staff.
Yesterday shelves were starting to empty and a banner informed shoppers that the doors would close for the final time at 5pm, yet a steady stream of shoppers continued to filter in and out of the store.
Among the shoppers determined to be there for the final day and to pick up their essentials for the last time, was 79-year-old Robert Wilkes, from Quarry Bank, who said: "I have been coming here since it opened 27 years ago, right from the start. I have no idea where I'm going to get my shopping from now.
"It's disgusting the way they have treated the staff."
Also upset for the staff was Michael Walker, 79, from Brierley Hill, who said: "Bosses to me are all the same, they don't tell the people concerned, the workers. They always wait until the last minute and all of a sudden it's closing.
"It's happening all over the country, and that makes me angry.
Accompanied by her husband Tony and armed with Sainsbury's bags for life, was 78-year old Dorothy Hammond from Stourbridge.
"We come here twice a week. It's terrible that it's closing. We will have to go to the one in Withymoor now."
Ready to fill up her trolley was 88-year-old Halesowen resident Dorothy Marlowe, who added: "I can't understand it. I come here every week, usually on a Saturday, at about 7.30am to 8am and there are so many people coming in. The car park is always full, as it is today."
Staff inside the store also commented on the decision. One employee who wished to remain anonymous said: "There's a lot of us without jobs now, well over 100. None of us have been relocated so we have to apply for new jobs. And full-time jobs are non-existent, so people are having to compromise on the hours they work."
No announcement has been made on another store at the premises.
Sainsbury's has been based at the centre – now owned by property group Intu – since 1989.
After news of the store's closure broke in September, a petition was launched in a bid to try and save the supermarket, with 337 giving their support.
Councillor Rachel Harris, who serves the Brierley Hill ward, said: "I am sad to see it go from Merry Hill. It has served customers for many years and has been a substantial employer in the area. However we have to acknowledge that people's shopping habits are changing."
A Sainsbury's spokesperson said: "The decision to close a store is never taken lightly. Customers can continue to shop with us at a number of local shops including our Amblecote supermarket, or order online for home delivery or click and collect."
Caroline Crolley, regional officer at Unite, criticised the superstore's decision when it was announced in September.
She said: "It's absolutely disgusting. Our members have co-operated with changes and this is the Christmas present they give them.
"We feel the way it has been done is disrespectful to our members who deserve better."