Jobs lost as store shuts

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HALDANES supermarket in Belper has closed this week with the loss of 40 jobs.

It is the second jobs blow to hit the town in two weeks after it was announced that Belper’s Focus DIY store was to close with the lose of 22 jobs.

In a move described as “regrettable” by the leader of Amber Valley Borough Council Cllr Stuart Bradford, Haldanes on King Street ceased trading last night, June 14, at 8pm.

A sign in the store window from staff said they were upset at the situation. It added that all workers in the shop had been made redundant and that some staff members had worked on the premises for 30 years.

All but four of the 26 Haldanes stores across the UK closed down as the owners of Haldanes Stores Limited made the decision to seek an administration order for the business in order to protect their position.

The Belper store opened only in January last year and was the fourth supermarket in the town alongside Morrisons, the Co-op, and Iceland.

But now a war of words and legal action has erupted between Haldanes and the Co-operative Group, which owns the King Street premises and was renting it to Haldanes.

The Co-op had acquired the King Street store when it bought out the Somerfield chain, opting to rent out the premises to Lincolnshire-based Haldanes as it already has a large Co-op store in the town on nearby Strutt Street.

Haldanes said in a statement this week it had issued proceedings in the High Court in which it is claimed the Co-operative Group had “materially breached key terms of the agreements it and the Co-op entered into and under which it acquired the 26 stores, and also that the Co-op’s actions amount to breaches of undertakings the Co-op gave to the Office of Fair Trading. Haldanes alleges that these breaches have severely damaged the business it acquired from the Co-op”.

Arthur Harris, chief executive of Haldanes, said: “The directors and I are devastated at having to take this step and our thoughts are with our employees in Belper who find themselves facing an uncertain future.

“We would like to publicly thank them for their efforts and loyalty during their time with Haldanes.

“We have made countless attempts to negotiate with the Co-operative Group Limited over the last nine months, all to no avail.

“I am absolutely distraught that it has come to this.”

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However, the Co-op has denied all the allegations. A spokesperson said: “The Co-operative Group regrets that Haldanes has taken the decision to seek an administration order.

“Haldanes is substantially indebted to the Group due to its failure to pay rents owing to us. We have acted in good faith throughout our dealings with the business, including providing significant financial support during its start-up phase. Any legal action will be contested vigorously.

“Most recently, we carefully considered a proposal from Haldanes that we provide further financial support to help them through their current difficulties. We regrettably decided, however, that given what appeared to be the levels of the issues facing Haldanes, we could not proceed.”

A letter sent to store managers detailed that staff would be paid in full for the period of June 9 to June 14, but all other outstanding wages, holiday pay and statutory notice will have to be claimed by employees from the government, a process that normally takes up to three months.

Joanne McGuiness, the national officer with the un ion Usdaw, which represents the shop workers, said: “This is devastating news for our members but it certainly won’t have come as a complete shock to them.”

Cllr Stuart Bradford said: “Following on from the announcement about Focus, it’s regrettable that another national retailer has withdrawn from Belper. It’s important to acknowledge, however, that the unfortunate failure of these businesses is no reflection on the area’s economic health and we will, of course, continue to do as much as we can to attract other investors to Belper which continues to maintain its status as a vibrant shopping town.”

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