Workers at the Homebase outlet in Hawick were told this week that the store is set to close in a national shake-up of the company.
The store, in the town’s Galalaw Retail Park, is one of the 42 stores being closed nationwide by the company, which is to launch a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), through which it hopes to reduce its cost base in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
It’s thought that 1,500 jobs in total will be lost. Homebase refused to confirm how many are employed in the Hawick store.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the company said it “has faced an extremely challenging retail trading environment reflecting weak consumer confidence and reduced consumer spending”.
However, Hawick and Denholm councillor Stuart Marshall said he had been told that the local store had been bucking the trend.
He told us: “The announcement of the closure of Homebase in the town will be viewed as a real hammer blow and my sources have been telling me for some time that this store , the only one in the region, has been performing very well in recent months.
“One can’t help feel for the staff that are caught up in what has been a disastrous time nationally for this company and today I have written to SBC economic development chiefs in order to seek support for employees.
“Homebase has served Hawick and the Borders well over many years and it’s disappearance will leave a huge gap in the town.”
It’s expected that the closure will take place later this year or early in 2019.
The region’s MP, John Lamont told us: “This is hugely disappointing news for staff, their families and Hawick itself.
“Just when it seems that a recovery is on the horizon for the town, a blow like this is announced.
“Homebase have promised to relocate staff where possible, however with the next nearest stores in Carlisle or Berwick, this isn’t going to be suitable for most.
“I’d encourage anyone affected to get in touch with my office in Hawick for advice.”
The company’s CEO, Damian McGloughlin, said it was not an easy choice.
He said: “Launching a CVA has been a difficult decision and one that we have not taken lightly.
“Homebase has been one of the most recognisable retail brands for almost 40 years, but the reality is we need to continue to take decisive action to address the underperformance of the business and deal with the burden of our cost base, as well as to protect thousands of jobs.
“The CVA is therefore an essential measure for the business to take and will enable us to refocus our operations and rebuild our offer for the years ahead.”
The shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw is urging Homebase owner Hilco to keep staff fully informed through the CVA process.
The union’s national officer Dave Gill said: “Homebase staff feared the worst when the company was sold for just one pound following the disastrous ownership by Wesfarmers.
“I am seeking urgent clarification from Hilco about their long-term plan to turn the company around. All too often staff are excluded from the CVA process as the future of their jobs are being decided.
“Clearly there is a huge task ahead, it is crucial that the company listens to the staff and invests in their experience and expertise to turn the business around and again make it a success.
“We are in touch with the company and continue to provide our members with the representation, support and advice they require at these uncertain and difficult times.”