Somerfield future in doubt

DESPITE just opening after a half a million pound re-fit a new supermarket in town could be set to close, it can be revealed today.

DESPITE just opening after a half a million pound re-fit a new supermarket in town could be set to close, it can be revealed today.

Somerfield in Carr Street, which opened in November at a cost of �500,000, is set to cease trading if a deal with The Co-operative Group goes through, and will be taken over by another supermarket -yet to be decided.

Staff have been reassured that as part of the �1.5 billion deal, there has to be another business ready to take over in its place, and so all their jobs will be safe and transferred to the new store under their employment conditions.

The news comes at a time when retailers across the country are under intense strain by the recession. Many shop units in Ipswich remain empty and although there will be another business taking over this branch, a Somerfield spokesman admitted negotiations will be tough.

He said: “The Ipswich store is one of those identified by the Office for Fair Trading as being potentially sold as part of the deal.

“Staff were told that if the deal goes ahead that store would have to be sold within six months of the deal happening. At this stage nobody has been identified as a buyer and negotiations will have to be tough.

Most Read

“Reports show exceptionally good sales over Christmas in Somerfield, bucking the trend of many other retailers. This is about bringing together the strengths of two businesses. Our strategy is to drive forward our brand and continue to sell our goods to customers.”

A spokeswoman for the Co-op Group added: “You have to have an upfront buyer before the deal goes ahead. It could mean tough negotiations but it has to happen.”

It is expected that the deal will be completed by the end of February and then a new store will replace Somerfield within a matter of months. There are 130 Somerfield stores across the country which will be affected by the deal as they are located in towns where there is also a regional branch of the Co-op.

The Co-operative Group is a separate entity to the East of England Co-op, which has a store across the road from Somerfield in Carr Street. The East of England Co-op confirmed that it has “no interest” in taking over the Somerfield branch.

It will take 18 months to two years for Co-op to complete the rebranding those stores. The Somerfield brand will eventually disappear.

Somerfield's opening in November saw the creation of 35 jobs. Among the options to replace it could be a Spar or even a small Tesco branch.

What do you think of the changing face of our high street? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail>

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter