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B&Q to close its Cowley, Oxford branch when lease expires in September

SIXTY-SEVEN jobs at a Cowley DIY store are at risk after it was announced the firm is to close its only Oxford outlet.

B&Q was expected to move into a smaller unit at Templars Shopping Park in Cowley after its £3.5m redevelopment, which includes a new Sainsbury’s supermarket.

But spokesman Marcia Fernandes-Gartside said: “Our B&Q Oxford store will be closing in September due to the retail lease coming to an end.”

She added: “We can’t say how many redundancies there will be because we are still in consultation.”

In a statement, B&Q said: “Our priority is to safeguard jobs and as we are still in a period of consultation with a number of our employees we are unable to comment further.

“We are doing everything we can to ensure that we find alternative roles for as many employees as possible.

“We have neighbouring stores in Abingdon, Witney and Aylesbury which are only seven, 13 and 26 miles away.”

Saj Malik, who represents Cowley Marsh, said: “It’s a great pity to lose these jobs, especially at a time of economic decline. The employees have my sympathy.

“It didn’t seem to be struggling – it seemed always to be full. I think it was a very much-needed facility in the Cowley area and will be missed.”

The redevelopment of the park includes three new café/restaurants, four houses and a ‘piazza’ on the site of B&Q’s garden centre, with work due to start soon.

The rest of the B&Q site has permission to be sub-divided into four new shop units facing the car park, one of which will be occupied by Sainsbury’s.

Redevelopment plans started in 2005, when the site in Between Towns Road was bought by property developers Resolution.

The developers are also planning to improve the corner of Rymers Lane by creating the John Allen Gardens to commemorate crane-maker John Allen & Sons, which was on the site for more than 100 years.

A gable wall of the original brick factory behind B&Q’s garden centre will be incorporated into new buildings. Work is due to finish next summer.

Source : Oxford Mail

27 August 2012
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