Budgens take over Wisbech Co-op

The Co-operative in Wisbech Horsefair that is going to become a Budgens ANL-160405-155705009
The Co-operative in Wisbech Horsefair that is going to become a Budgens ANL-160405-155705009

A Wisbech supermarket is among the 36 stores sold off by a national chain.

The Co-op announced that it is selling off former Somerfield stores, just eight years after its £1.6billion takeover of the supermarket chain.

The 36 former Somerfield stores, currently trading as Co-op supermarkets, have been snapped up by the Food Retailer Group for an undisclosed sum.

As part of the deal, all 36 stores will be re-branded as Budgens supermarkets, with none of the 920 affected staff losing their jobs as they will be transferred to the new business under an agreement.

The Wisbech site employs 35 people.

Two years ago the Co-op wrote down the value of its Somerfield store chain by £226million, which added to its woes as it nursed a £2.1billion loss in its banking arm for 2013 – the worst result in its 170-year-old history.

A spokesman for The Food Retailer Group said: “An important consideration for us was that colleagues would have continued employment as a result of this sale and this agreement ensures that colleagues will continue in their jobs and have their terms and conditions maintained post-sale.

“The decision to sell the store has been made as part of an ongoing store review process and is in no way a reflection on the hard work and commitment from the 35 colleagues working at the store.”

The Co-op had also acted as Wisbech’s town champion in the Healthy High Streets campaign, which was supported by Business in the Community.

It is not known how this arrangement will continue.

- Tesco says it is holding talks with other retailers interested in its mothballed Chatteris site.

Fenland District Council had asked for clarification on the chain’s plans for the site following the announcement that it made a pre-tax profit of £162 million last year.

Jessica Walker, Tesco’s regional communications manager for the East of England, told the council: “We took the very difficult decision not to open the store in Chatteris.

“We are keen to bring the unit to use as quickly as possible, and appreciate the importance to the local community.

“We are continuing discussions with retailers interested in the site, and will keep the community updated.”