Dozens of jobs at risk as Waitrose in the Orchards Shopping Centre in Dartford to close after consultation finds no solution
More than 120 people are set to be relocated or lose their jobs as Waitrose confirms it will be closing its Dartford branch.
Waitrose in Dartford will close in February
Proposals for the closure were outlined in October and, after a consultation phase, the store has been deemed "commercially unsustainable".
The supermarket giant, which employs 128 people at its store in the Orchards Shopping Centre, will shut up shop for the last time at 5pm on February 18.
Waitrose director Stephen Hider said: "The decision to close the branch is an absolute last resort, however having considered a number of options to make the branch commercially sustainable and following consultation with our Dartford partners, we have sadly been unable to find a solution.
"Our priority remains our Dartford partners and we are endeavouring to find alternative work for those who wish to remain within the business.
"We will trade until February 18th and are grateful to those people who have written to us to express their support and our customers who continue to shop with us."
He added that trading at the branch has been "difficult" since it first open in 2004, when it replaced Safeway.
A spokesman for the John Lewis partner said: "We're working very hard to relocate all partners who wish to stay with the business and will know how many people wish to stay at the beginning of next year.
"We've been quite overwhelmed by the people who have written to us and the support we've got from out customers over the years.
"It's obviously very sad and disappointing that we have had to make this decision."
Waitrose at the Orchard Shopping Centre in Dartford
All Waitrose staff members at the Dartford branch were informed of the closure this morning.
The supermarket will officially leave the building in March next year.
Dartford council leader Cllr Jeremy Kite (Con) said: "It’s very disappointing to hear that Waitrose have confirmed the closure although perhaps not surprising given their initial statement.
"The focus now must be to secure another popular tenant for the store and I understand the landlords are pretty confident about that.
"The other concern we have is for the great staff at Waitrose and I know that the company are working hard to find alternative positions within the group for as many as they can.
"The John Lewis Partnership is renowned for the way they treat their colleagues and I wish them well. There’s no point denying that we shall miss Waitrose but I hope it isn’t too long before we are welcoming a new big name store into the centre."
Which store would you like to see in place of Waitrose?
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