Tesco has announced the closure of three North East stores, with over 100 jobs at risk
(Tesco store in Bedlington)
Supermarket giant Tesco has announced the closure of three North East stores, with the potential loss of over 100 jobs.
The company has revealed it is to close its stores at Bedlington, Whitley Bay and Hartlepool, as part of previously announced plans to close 43 unprofitable stores across the country.
The Bedlington closure will see the possible loss of 90 jobs and has sparked a furious response from the local MP who claims Tesco gave no indication the store was to shut in discussions only last week.
Tesco announced earlier this month it would be closing 43 unprofitable stores as part of a cost-cutting exercise.
At the time, it also revealed 49 planned stores around the country would not be developed, including schemes at Amble, Stanley and Peterlee.
The company has now announced the 43 stores which are to close, including the superstore at Bedlington where 90 people work, which will shut on April 4.
Express stores at Whitley Bay and Hartlepool are also to close, with the potential loss of 15 and 18 jobs respectively, both on March 15.
Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis said: “In January I announced that our performance as a business has fallen significantly short of where we would want it to be and that to protect the future of the business in the UK we would close 43 unprofitable stores.
“The decision to close the stores has been exceptionally difficult to take.
“I recognise it will affect many hard working colleagues, our customers and local communities.
“Our priority is to explain what this announcement means for our colleagues and wherever possible, offer them alternative roles with Tesco.
“We will continue to serve our customers through other local stores and our dotcom service.”
News of the Bedlington closure has angered Wansbeck Labour MP Ian Lavery, who says Tesco gave no indication the store was to be axed in discussions just last week.
He said: “Only last week I asked Tesco what its intentions for Bedlington were and they gave no indication that the store would also be closing in April.
“Now it seems that they are prepared to allow Bedlington to wither on the vine by closing what is a valued amenity for local people.
“When Tesco announced recently that it was to close 43 stores the company gave no indication that Bedlington would be one of them although they did say that Amble would be affected by the closure programme.
“Closing the Bedlington store will be a huge blow to the people who work there and my heart goes out to them as well as to the local residents particularly the elderly who found it very convenient for them in the town centre.”
The MP had spearheaded a campaign to get the company to deliver on a promise made eight years ago to develop a vacant plot of town centre land in its ownership, by building new retail units beneath an enterprise centre providing up to 15 high quality offices for small businesses.
Tesco recently confirmed it had shelved the plans.
The MP is now to write to Mr Lewis to urge him to sell all its land in Bedlington as soon as possible.
Mr Lavery said: “Eight years ago the announcement that Bedlington was to get some new shops, a business centre for small firms and investment in the biggest supermarket in the town, was greeted enthusiastically.
“Today those hopes have been dashed and it is fair to say that this news has come as an absolute bombshell for Bedlington.
“My reaction is to say that I will immediately write to the chief executive of Tesco urging him to begin negotiations without any delay, over the disposal of the land and property the company owns in an around Bedlington Market Place, to Northumberland County Council so that alternative plans can be drawn up to ensure that the developments the people of the town were anticipating, can actually go ahead.
“I feel that I have been totally mislead by the company and never once in any recent discussions I have had with Tesco representatives was it hinted that the future of its Bedlington store was in jeopardy.
“Bedlington needs the sort of investment that would be of great benefit to the town centre – and which was promised eight years ago – and not the closure of an important local amenity such as this store.”
A Tesco spokesman said: “We are absolutely committed to working with Ian on the future of the site.
“We are trying to set up a meeting with the county council.”
Meanwhile the closures have also been condemned by trade union Usdaw.
Pauline Foulkes, national officer, said: “This is devastating news for over 2,000 dedicated staff in the 43 Tesco stores across the UK, who have worked hard to make their shop viable during a difficult time for the company.
“We will now enter into full and meaningful consultation meetings on this proposal, where we will look closely at the company’s business case for the closures. Our priority is to maximise employment within Tesco, seek redeployment opportunities for members, where possible, and to keep job losses to a minimum.
“We will support, advise and represent our members throughout this difficult period of uncertainty.”