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Carpetright closes stores and cuts jobs

By KentOnline reporter

Carpetright is closing 92 stores and cutting 300 jobs - with three Kent stores affected.

The retailer, which employs 2,700 people in the UK, said 11 of the sites earmarked for closure had already stopped trading.

The business has 15 shops in the county in Ashford, Westwood Cross in Broadstairs, Canterbury, Chatham, Dartford, Dover, Folkestone, Gillingham, Gravesend, Maidstone, Sevenoaks, Sittingbourne, Strood, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells.

Carpetright's store in Gravesend, which is to remain open. Picture: Google Maps

The three that are closing are the Folkestone, Strood and Thanet stores.

The move follows a review of its property portfolio which found more than 200 sites were underperforming or on unfavourable lease terms.

Chief executive Wilf Walsh previously blamed the firm's troubles on an "aggressive store opening strategy pursued by the company's previous leadership".

This had left it "burdened with an oversized property estate consisting of too many poorly located stores on rents which are simply unsustainable".

A Carpetright spokesman said today: “We’re announcing today some tough but necessary steps to address our legacy property issues and restore our profitability.

"We are launching a CVA (Company Voluntary Arrangement) proposal that, if approved, will result in the closure of 81 poorly located or over-rented stores, from a UK total in excess of 400, later this year. Planned closures will not affect our customers, all orders will be fulfilled either by the original store or a neighbouring Carpetright where necessary.

“Regrettably, we expect this will mean that around 300 colleagues would leave the business but we will make every effort to find alternative roles for those affected wherever possible.

"We’re also announcing that we plan to follow the CVA with an equity financing to raise £60m of new funds to invest in our stores and online offer, to strengthen the competitive position of the ongoing business.

“It’s important to stress that throughout the CVA process, we will continue trading as normal and customers can continue to shop with Carpetright with confidence. We do not expect the proposed stores to close before September 2018.

“We will remain in close contact with all colleagues to keep them fully informed as we move through this process."

The flooring retailer has managed to cut rent on 113 struggling outlets.

A rescue deal will also see investors put in £60 million.

More follows.

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