Jobs saved at Yarmouth's Co-op

Around 350 jobs have been saved after the Co-op found a bidder for its department and home stores, including ones in Norwich and Yarmouth.The East of England Co-operative Society has completed the deal for Vergo Retail to take over its department and home stores business with immediate effect, while the society retains freehold ownership of all the stores.

Around 350 jobs have been saved after the Co-op found a bidder for its department and home stores, including ones in Norwich and Yarmouth.

The East of England Co-operative Society has completed the deal for Vergo Retail to take over its department and home stores business with immediate effect, while the society retains freehold ownership of all the stores.

The deal protects the employment of around 350 Co-op employees, all of whom have transferred to Vergo Retail.

The 12 premises concerned are within the associated non-food distribution depots and include the department store in St Stephens Street, Norwich, which employs more than 60 people, and another in Market Place, Yarmouth.


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In April, the Co-op said the stores involved had been underperforming and launched a consultation, which could have seen them shut down.

Richard Samson, chief executive of the East of England Co-op, said: “The new operators will be taking over the running of a well established group of stores with a large number of loyal customers and we anticipate the future bringing positive benefits to all concerned. I must also extend appreciation to our members and customers for their support.

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“The stores involved total less than 6pc of the society's total business and we will continue to be the largest independent retailer in East Anglia operating more than 200 trading outlets.

“Our multi-million pound capital development programme is also continuing, with several major food store refurbishments having already been completed in recent months and more to follow.”

Liverpool-based Vergo bought a group of stores in the south west just three months ago.

The group, which now boasts nine department stores, says the new shops will give it more buying power to help it ride out the recession.

David Thompson, of Vergo, said: “We are delighted to have expanded our business into the east of England and look forward to a successful future for our new stores.

“Major cosmetic changes may not be immediate, as initially my team will work closely with our new colleagues to review their product offer and develop a strategy for improvements.”

Norrie Slater, divisional officer for the eastern division of USDAW, said: “We are extremely pleased that this transfer has been successfully concluded guaranteeing the employment of around 350 employees.”

Any orders previously placed with the Co-op's department and home stores will be fulfilled and any deposits in place are secure with Vergo taking over all obligations to customers, including any returns or guarantees on past purchases.

The society will continue to provide member service departments within selected larger department stores, enabling Co-op members to access dividend transactions as normal.

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