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The Range to acquire site of Midlands-based discounter, Hooty's

Discount giant Hooty’s is on the brink of closure after decades in the Midlands, casting uncertainty on scores of jobs.

Workers at the main site in Willenhall and its Kidderminster store have been told they will shut early next year.

Home store The Range is in negotiations about taking over the site in Longacres Industrial Estate, Rose Hill, Willenhall, where around 100 workers are based.

They say it is proposed existing staff will transfer over to their business.

The future of the £500,000 store in Kidderminster, which opened its doors in 2010, creating 50 jobs remains unclear.

Just two years ago Hooty’s revealed it was looking to open a new superstore in the Midlands, creating up to 150 jobs, after turnover hit £13.5 million in the previous year. It also comes just weeks after the Willenhall building was given permission to extend its opening hours.

The well-known store was founded in 1963.

Today’s announcement has led to uncertainty among staff. One worker said staff were called into an office and told it was being taken over by The Range.

“They said it would happen in January and that they couldn’t guarantee our jobs under the new owner,” the worker said.

“We’ve been told there’s going to be a massive refurb but no one can tell us what’s happening, whether the new owner will be bringing his own people or not.

“The boss told us that the Range tried to buy him out three years ago but he refused. Now he says they’ve made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.”

The Range was founded by Plymouth-based entrepreneur Chris Dawson. He started the business in 1980 as an open-air market trader and saved up enough money to launch a superstore.

It now employs more than 6,500 people throughout the UK.

A statement from The Range said: “We can confirm that CDS (Superstores International) Ltd who trade as The Range from over 85 locations throughout the UK are in negotiations to acquire the property presently occupied by Hooty’s Supplies (Wholesale) Ltd at Longacre Industrial Estate Willenhall.

“If the site is successfully acquired then CDS plans a major facelift in 2014 and the current store will be transformed into a modern store in The Range’s trading style.

“There will remain a familiar look about the business in that, as part of the arrangement, it is proposed that the existing staff will transfer to The Range.”

Source : Express & Star

04 December 2013
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