Waitrose to sell Wolverhampton store to Tesco as it announces further shop closures

Waitrose has announced it is shutting a further three branches and selling its Wolverhampton superstore to Tesco, putting 124 jobs at risk.

All 124 staff at the smaller three shops – in Shrewsbury, Caldicot and Ipswich Corn Exchange – are at risk of redundancy, while the 140 employees at Wolverhampton Waitrose, based off Penn Road, will transfer to Tesco.

Waitrose said the move forms part of an ongoing review of its store estate, which began in 2017.

The retailer said: “We have found trading challenging in these four shops and, despite the best efforts of partners, we have not been able to find a way to make them profitable in the long-term.”

It is expected that Caldicot, Ipswich Corn Exchange and Shrewsbury will all close on December 6 and Wolverhampton will close on December 31.

Waitrose said: “The 140 partner roles at Wolverhampton transfer under TUPE to Tesco. The 124 partners that work in the three other shops are at risk of redundancy. All affected partners will now enter a period of consultation.”

Bérangère Michel, partner and executive director, customer service for the John Lewis Partnership, 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 latest closures come after John Lewis permanently closed a string of its 50 department stores in July, including its landmark Birmingham store and its At Home store in Tamworth, putting hundreds of retail jobs in the West Midlands under threat.

The under-pressure retailer announced it was permanently closing eight of its stores, putting 1,300 jobs at risk.

John Lewis’s store was the anchor to the Grand Central development and a source of pride for the city in underpinning its new-found confidence. It employed 650 people when the 136,000 sq ft store opened five years ago.