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Dozens of jobs at risk as Waitrose set to close failing Dartford branch in Orchards Shopping Centre

03 October 2013
by KentOnline reporter

More than 100 jobs are at risk after Waitrose announced the proposed closure of its Dartford town centre branch.

The supermarket giant, which employs 128 people at its store in the Orchards Shopping Centre, blamed tough trading conditions.

The company took over the former Safeway shop in 2004, but said it has been "unable to make the shop commercially sustainable".

If the proposed closure goes ahead, Waitrose would continue to trade until at least February before leaving at the end of March when its lease expires.   

A spokesman said the idea is subject to consultation with employees and the firm would try to find work for them elsewhere in the business.

Stephen Hider, Waitrose director of retail operations, said: "The proposed closure of our Dartford branch is not a decision we took lightly and we understand the disappointment this will cause to both our customers and partners. 

"We made a major investment in Dartford with every expectation that the shop would be successful.

"Since opening nine years ago though, we have found trading at the branch extremely challenging and, despite the best endeavours of our partners, we have not been able to make the branch commercially sustainable."

Opening of the Dartford Waitrose store in September 2004

Opening of the Dartford Waitrose store in September 2004

He added: "We will be meeting with each Dartford partner over the coming weeks and will endeavour to ensure they remain with the business, whatever the outcome of the consultation, as their expertise and experience is invaluable. 

"We would like to thank our customers for their loyal custom during our time of trading at Dartford."

Waitrose also has branches in nearby Longfield as well as Kings Hill and the John Lewis foodhall at Bluewater in Greenhithe. 

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