Smaller local Co-ops to be sold to McColl’s

Burnfoot branch of Co-op, one of 298 stores which are being sold to McColl's
Burnfoot branch of Co-op, one of 298 stores which are being sold to McColl's

Five Co-operative Group food stores in the Borders are included in the £117million sale of its 298 smaller food stores throughout the UK to McColl’s Retail Group.

The sale, which is subject to approval by the competition watchdog and which could take place in November, will enable the Co-operative Group to invest in its larger food stores, i.e. those with 3,000 sq ft of floorspace or larger.

The stores affected in the sale in the Borders are as follows: Old Town, Peebles; Gala Park, Galashiels; Burnfoot, Hawick; Main St, St Boswells; and Canongate, Jedburgh. Also included in the sale is the Co-op in Dunbar.

All the stores being sold have an average of 1,700 sq ft.

A spokesman for the Co-operative Group said: “There will be no redundancies – all affected employees will be moved across to McColls.

“These are good stores that traded well, but we are keen to move forward with our food strategy, which will see us sell more own-brand goods in our larger stores.”

However, the Southern understands that several employees are devastated at the unexpected news of the forthcoming sale and are in talks with their employers to be resited in a remaining store.

Several of the larger stores in the Borders will remain under the auspices of the Co-op group, such as the stores in Newtown St Boswells, Kelso, Selkirk and High Street, Jedburgh.

All stores will continue to trade immediately after handover and all colleagues will transfer to McColl’s under TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment).

In the last two years, The Co-op has opened almost 200 new stores nationwide and in 2016 is actively pursuing 100 new store acquisitions.

Steve Murrells, CEO of the Co-operative Food Group, said: “[The] announcement is completely in line with our strategy, as these stores did not allow us to provide a sufficiently compelling own-brand offer for our members going forwards.

“The proceeds will be re-invested to drive sustainable growth for our members and I’m delighted that all 3,808 colleagues will transfer to McColl’s on the same terms and conditions.”