900 jobs saved as Anglia Co-operative sell 19 department stores- including Wisbech- but no reprieve for March

WESTGATE Store, Wisbech, has been sold by Anglia Regional Co-operative Society in a �7.5 million, 900 jobs transfer deal but there will be no reprieve for the March store.

The Wisbech store, along with 18 others, has been snapped up Beales and will more than double the company’s outlets to 32.

Freeholds will be retained by Anglia and leased back to Beales.

Four stores- including March which is to close in August- are not included and will remain with Anglia.

All 54 jobs at the Wisbech store are expected to transfer to Beales as part of the agreement.


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Sharon Ainsworth of the shopworkers’ union Usdaw said the sale had “obviously come as a shock and it will no doubt cause some degree of uncertainty and worry.”

However the union believes the deal “could be in the best interests of staff and may help secure the long term future of the business. Beales is a dedicated department store company with over 100 years of history and experience behind them and they have clearly been looking for further opportunities for growth.”

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John Chillcott, Anglia Co-operative chief executive, said: “Beales are a long-established department store operator and combining into one enlarged group makes strong commercial sense and improves job security and opportunities for the 900 staff employed in the Westgate stores covered by the deal – including the 54 people employed at Wisbech.”

Anglia will continue to operate the furniture, travel, optical and hairdressing departments within the stores.

Mr Chillcott said Anglia Co-operative “ will have a significant investment interest in the enlarged Beales department store group and as a result of this deal the society will be better able to invest in the growth and development of its Co-operative food, funerals, travel, optical and AHF furniture businesses.”

* The 19 stores affected are located in Beccles, Bishop Auckland, Chipping Norton, Cinderford, Diss, Harrogate, Keighley, Kings Lynn, Lowestoft, Mansfield, Peterborough, Redcar, Saffron Walden, Skegness, Skipton, Spalding, St. Neots, Wisbech and Abingdon (Contact Electrical & Comfortmaker stores).

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