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Bosses deny Waitrose in Hythe could close

A supermarket chain has allayed fears that one of its Kent stores will close following 16 job losses.

The Waitrose store in Hythe remains “absolutely committed” to staying open a spokesman has announced, in response to speculation it could shut.

Waitrose has confirmed its Hythe store will remain open. Picture: Google
Waitrose has confirmed its Hythe store will remain open. Picture: Google

Concerns were raised after a real estate magazine claimed a branch in Hythe is set to be sold as part of a substantial cost-cutting exercise.

Last week, the grocery chain owned by John Lewis revealed 16 staff members had taken voluntary redundancy after the retailer offered a payout.

"We remain absolutely committed to serving our customers in Hythe both today and in the future, and our shop will remain open as usual,” a John Lewis spokesman told KentOnline.

The words of reassurance come after commercial real estate news provider CoStar news claimed John Lewis had “called bids” on 12 of its Waitrose food supermarket stores.

The publication claimed the company is looking to raise money to invest in its online operations.

Waitrose grocery story earlier this month confirmed that 16 staff members had taken voluntary redundancy at the Hythe store.

Workers decided to quit their roles after they were offered the payout by the retailer.

Bosses say they were allowed to take voluntary redundancy as staffing levels exceeded the firm’s business requirements.

Defending the move at the time, a Waitrose spokesperson said: “We want to provide the very best service to our customers and this means having the right amount of Partners doing the right tasks at the right time.

“We had some over-contracted hours at Waitrose Hythe, where staffing levels exceeded our business requirements.

“Some Partners were given the opportunity to take voluntary redundancy.

“We fully supported these Partners throughout.”

The firm says staff were consulted with and received a redundancy package upon leaving the company.

Waitrose director James Bailey previously said the company needs to have its stores positioned in "the right place in the right postcode".

He added that Waitrose has "really big, well-thought through plans".

"For the past two or three years, with Covid-19 and the cost of living challenges, and a little bit before that, we had to be careful about the shops we were investing in," he told the Telegraph last September.

"Now the partnership is in a position to reinvest in that shopping estate and we've got really big, well-thought through plans about how we go back through the years."

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