Closure risks 100s of jobs

Morrisons supermarket, Burnham-on -Sea.

Morrisons supermarket, Burnham-on -Sea. - Credit: Archant

MORE than 100 jobs are on the line in Burnham after a ‘unviable’ town centre supermarket announced it is set to close.

Morrisons, in Pier Street, opened in 2009, but is one of 11 branches around the UK which could shut as profits fall across the company, with a consultation set to begin.

A spokesman for Morrisons said the firm had looked ‘extremely closely’ at whether the store could survive, and would consult with colleagues and unions to establish how job losses could be minimised.

Those staff will face a ‘period of great uncertainty’ during the consultation according to town centre manager Beverley Milner Simonds, while Wells MP James Heappey said he understood branches in neighbouring towns may have roles for some staff.

A Morrisons spokesman said: “We are consulting with colleagues and unions and we will be discussing how to reduce redundancies and redeploy colleagues around our business.”

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The store opened in July 2009, having bought the premises from previous occupants Somerfield, but Mr Heappey said he did not think a supermarket would take on the site.

He said: “Once it is available it presents an interesting opportunity; Waitrose and Sainsbury’s are the only major supermarkets who haven’t been to Burnham, but they may be unlikely to take it up now.

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“The site could be redeveloped. I know there has been some work done before and Sedgemoor District Council is looking at this now; it could be a fantastic opportunity.

“But clearly the first concern is for people’s jobs.

“There are Morrisons branches in Bridgwater, Weston and Wells, and as I understand it there are opportunities for redeployment of staff there. It’s premature to assume there will be a lot of job losses.”

A meeting is planned to discuss the site’s future with the council and Burnham Chamber of Trade.

Mrs Milner Simonds said: “My immediate thoughts are with the many staff at the store who will be facing a period of great uncertainty.

“I understand Morrisons has issued a statement that the consultation is with a view to close the store and that they will strive to redeploy colleagues, this will be little comfort to the staff as we approach the festive period.

“My focus is on getting the site re-let, sold or redeveloped as rapidly as possible so as to create job opportunities locally. The conversations with Economic Development have been positive and I will keep the pressure up to get a solution in place asap.”

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