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Dartford MP Gareth Johnson 'saddened' by Waitrose's confirmed closure
2:32pm Thursday 5th December 2013 in News
THE Waitrose store in Dartford is shutting up shop in less than three months with up to 128 employees at risk of losing their jobs.
The branch in Orchards Shopping Centre will close on February 18 due to “commercial reasons” but the company is hoping to find alternative work for as many of the staff as possible.
All workers have been informed of the news.
News Shopper revealed the proposed plan in October which were described as a “devastating blow” for the area by Councillor for Temple Hill ward Matt Bryant.
Dartford MP Gareth Johnson said: “I was updated on the consultation last week and told the company is trying to work out each person’s individual employment needs.
“I am saddened but not surprised by this news.
“Following the original announcement it has been heartening to see the public rally behind the store.
"The important issue now is ensuring Waitrose follow through on the assurances that were given to me at the time the closure was announced, that they will offer alternative employment to all their staff.
"It's ironic that we have just had news of record levels of employment in Dartford with 2,500 more people in work now than in 2010."
The company found trading at the branch difficult since first acquiring the former Safeway shop from Morrisons in 2004 and has been unable to make the shop commercially sustainable.
The trade will trade until 5pm on February 18 and will then move out of the premises at the end of March when the existing lease expires.
A Waitrose spokesman said: "We have confirmed today our Dartford branch in the Orchards Shopping Centre will close on February 18 next year due to commercial reasons.
“Waitrose will endeavour to find alternative work within the business for all Dartford Partners who have now been informed.”
The company’s director of retail operations Stephen Hider said: "The decision to close the branch is an absolute last resort, however having considered a number of options to make the branch commercially sustainable and following consultation with our Dartford Partners, we have sadly been unable to find a solution.
“Our priority remains our Dartford Partners and we are endeavouring to find alternative work for those who wish to remain within the business.
"We will trade until February 18 and are grateful to those people who have written to us to express their support and our customers who continue to shop with us."
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