EXCLUSIVE: Shocked staff at Westgate in March informed of its closure this morning
12:54 29 March 2011
TWENTY-five jobs are to go in March, when the Westgate department store shuts down this summer.
Shocked members of staff were given news of the closure and resulting job losses at a meeting early this morning.
Anglia Co-operative, the store’s owners, say they have taken the decision to close down because the shop is “no longer economically viable.”
Staff were not prepared to comment on the closure, but were clearly reeling from the news. There are currently six full time members of staff, and 19 part-timers.
The Westgate store has traded from its Station Road premises for more than 30 years.
The site has been sold to property developers, subject to contract, and it is believed that homes will be built there. The Society has entered into consultation with the trade unions, and will later consult with all members of staff.
Chief executive John Chillcott said: “The decision to close was taken with great reluctance after all other avenues were pursued.
“The Society, after careful consideration, has unfortunately come to the conclusion that the Westgate department store in March is no longer economically viable to operate in the long term, and on that basis the Society has accepted an offer on the store from a third party developer.”
The site has been sold to Reef Estates Ltd. Mr Chillcott said: “At this stage, contracts have been exchanged, however this is subject to planning permission being granted.
“Should the planning be accepted, then this would mean that the store will cease trading and as a consequence, the staff are faced with a potential redundancy situation.
“The planning process can take six weeks, and therefore it is anticipated that the store will close in July or August.”
The Anglia Co-operative Travel branch based in the store is not affected by the sale; it is due to move to separate premises in the town shortly.
Two other Anglia Co-operative businesses in March, March Funerals in City Road and the food store in Badgeney Road are unaffected.
The Society says that the Westgate department store in Wisbech will continue to trade