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Shock as East of England Co-op in Ipswich's Handford Road earmarked for closure

PUBLISHED: 14:27 23 June 2018 | UPDATED: 14:27 23 June 2018

The East of England Co-op in Handford Road, Ipswich, which has been earmarked for closure Picture: GEMMA MITCHELL

The East of England Co-op in Handford Road, Ipswich, which has been earmarked for closure Picture: GEMMA MITCHELL

GEMMA MITCHELL

Shoppers have expressed shock after plans to shut to a "struggling" East of England Co-op store in Ipswich were announced.

A notice in the window of The East of England Co-op in Handford Road, Ipswich Picture: GEMMA MITCHELLA notice in the window of The East of England Co-op in Handford Road, Ipswich Picture: GEMMA MITCHELL

The company is proposing to permanently close the Handford Road branch on Saturday, July 7 because it is not making enough profit.

The Subway kiosk based inside the store – which is just down the road from Lidl and Sainsbury’s – will also shut.

A consultation on the closure plans has been launched with staff.

A notice placed in the Handford Road shop window reads: “Despite our best efforts this store has been loss making for some time. As a co-op, we have to balance providing a service to local communities and ensuring our overall business succeeds.”

The East of England Co-op in Handford Road, Ipswich, which has been earmarked for closure Picture: GEMMA MITCHELLThe East of England Co-op in Handford Road, Ipswich, which has been earmarked for closure Picture: GEMMA MITCHELL

Bosses have “committed” to relocating staff to other stores in the business, the notice adds.

A letter sent to East of England Co-op members and seen by this newspaper reads: “In what is a very challenging food retail market, this branch is struggling to be profitable.”

Customer Patricia Birchall said she used the store every day.

She added: “I think a lot of older people use it as well and that’s my biggest worry - where they will shop.

“I will miss it.

“It’s always crowded with long queues so it was a surprise. A lot of people use it. It’s handy.”

Robert Rudge added: “I will miss it because it’s on my door step.

“I don’t know why it’s at a loss.”

Richard Elliott said he was “really sad” to receive the letter this morning informing him of the suggested closure.

He added: “I live round the corner so it’s really useful to get to if you want a short walk.

“They are a little bit pricey compared to Lidl and Sainsbury’s which is why I use it for a smaller shop, every day bits.

“When I go for a big shop at other places I feel guilty but they are so much cheaper.

“Lidl will be the gainer I suspect.

“I used to shop at the Co-op all the time when I lived in Eye which was why I was pleased when I saw this store.”

The East of England Co-op is a consumer-owned business, which means shoppers can become members and receive a certain share of the profits each year depending on how much they spend.

The window notice adds that members’ annual dividend payment would be unaffected by the store closure.

The next nearest East of England Co-op is around one mile away in Bramford Lane.

The company has been contacted for comment.

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