Budgens stores in Norwich, Watton and Wisbech could face closure after owner goes into administration
PUBLISHED: 16:24 16 February 2017 | UPDATED: 19:47 16 February 2017
Archant Norfolk 2017
Three convenience stores could face closure, with up to 95 jobs at risk, after the owner placed them into administration.
Budgens stores at Plumstead Road in Norwich, Watton and Wisbech have an uncertain future after creditors of the Food Retailer Operations Ltd (FROL) failed to agree to a deal to prevent it.
The Norwich site employs 18 while the Watton store has 23 members of staff. The Wisbech shop has 54 employees.
The stores were previously owned by Somerfield which were bought by the Co-op in 2008 during the financial crisis.
Last year Co-op sold the stores on to The Food Retailer Group, an arm of restructuring business Hilco, and they were rebranded as Budgens stores.
PwC is overseeing the administration of 34 stores affected across the UK and is attempting to find a buyer for the business.
The accountancy giant said “difficult trading conditions” since the purchase of the stores in July 2016 had led to the move.
Mike Denny, joint administrator at PwC, said: “FROL has faced significant headwinds in the form of pricing pressures, intense competition and structural change across the food retail sector.
“We are continuing to trade all 34 stores, whilst engaging with interested parties for the sites and the other leasehold interests of the company.
“We will work closely with the employees over the coming weeks.”
Former owner Co-op has said it will try to support its former employees should the stores close by finding roles elsewhere.
John Gorle, Usdaw national officer said: “The livelihoods of hundreds of shopworkers are on the line and it is crucial that we do everything possible to help keep the stores trading and save jobs by finding a buyer.”
He added: “So far, we have had successful discussions with the Co-op, who are committed to providing support for staff and possible redeployment opportunities if the worst happens.
“We continue to explore all avenues to help members stay in employment.”
The union has also urged National Lottery owner Camelot not to remove its ticket sales from the stores as it fears this could hinder a deal being reached with potential buyers.