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Tesco to close flagship Edgbaston store

Tesco Edgbaston

Birmingham was dealt another severe jobs blow after debt-ridden retailer Tesco announced the closure of its flagship Edgbaston store with the potential loss of 225 jobs.

The store has been earmarked for closure after the High Street supermarket giant decided not to renew the lease on the premises at Ladywood Middleway, near Five Ways Island.

The retailer has now launched a 45-day consultation programme with affected staff, with Usdaw union officials involved. The store is one of Tesco’s longest-established outlets in the West Midlands, and was opened in 1977.

A Tesco spokesperson said: “We have taken the very difficult decision not to renew our lease at our Edgbaston store. Our priority is to do everything we can to find alternative roles within Tesco for as many affected colleagues as possible. We’ll continue to serve customers through our local Expresses, Metro and Superstores.

“All 225 colleagues have been informed they are at risk of redundancy. Wherever possible we will offer colleagues alternative roles within Tesco.”

News of the impending closure comes just days after the retailer’s AGM on Friday, when Tesco finance director Alan Stewart said Britain’s biggest retailer did not need to make an “immediate decision” about asset sales despite sitting on a debt mountain of £22 billion.

Tesco is selling off its data business Dunnhumby and is also understood to have appointed HSBC to explore a sale of its South Korean arm. The company has remained tight-lipped on the asset sales, but Mr Stewart insisted that Tesco was not a forced seller despite its debt.

Mr Stewart said Tesco, which has come under increasing pressure from cut-price competitors such as Aldi and Lidl, “won’t be doing anything that is rushed” and “don’t have to take an immediate decision.”

The debt includes a £3.9 billion pension deficit, £9.4 billion of lease commitments, and net debt excluding Tesco Bank of £8.5 billion. The Tesco spokesperson said the chain had 13 Express stores, one Metro and one Superstore within a 2.5 mile radius of the Edgbaston site.

Source : Jon Griffin - Birmingham Mail

29 June 2015

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