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Customers sad to see another Grantham store lost as company announces Wilko due to close in May

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There has been shock and upset as customers and business leaders react to the news that the Wilko store in Grantham is due to close in May with the loss of 15 jobs.

The GMB union has described the planned closure if 16 Wilko stores around the country, including Grantham’s, as “another nail in the High Street’s coffin”.

Wilko has confirmed it is planning to close the store in the Isaac Newton Centre in May.

The Wilko store in the Isaac Newton Centre in Grantham. (54234268)
The Wilko store in the Isaac Newton Centre in Grantham. (54234268)

The GMB union says that a total of 300 jobs could be cut as the company looks to close some of its stores this year.

Lesley Pashley, chairman of Grantham Business Club said: “It’s sad to see that another high street name is about to close in Grantham. Our understanding is that the building lease is coming to an end so it is probably more about an opportunity for Wilkos to close a store rather than the Grantham branch not paying its way.

“As a town we have plenty of alternatives to Wilko so, as disappointing as it is, hopefully people will continue to spend their money locally in Grantham rather than going out of the town.”

Grantham resident Lynda North says she has been a big Wilko fan for over 50 years and will definitely miss the shop if it closes for good.

Lynda told the Journal: “One only has to look inside the Isaac Newton Centre to see how many shops are empty opposite Morrison’s store entrance. It is rapidly becoming like the George Centre - simply a ghost town!

“I’m sure many people will miss Wilkos after nearly 40 years of being in the town centre. Hopefully they will find new premises elsewhere in Grantham.”

Steve Cattell, of Hougham, said he believed Wilko would not be closing if realistic rents were being charged.

He said: “In Grantham we have heard this story many times, from the Chinese buffet on the corner of St Catherine’s Road to multiple occupants of the George Centre to Woolworths nationally.

“Towns are dying because of this greed.”

Leader of South Kesteven District Council Kelham Cooke (Con) said: “It is extremely unfortunate to lose a big brand like Wilko in Grantham, as the company decides to close stores in 15 town centres across the country.

“I understand this decision has come as a result of failed talks with national landlords, which local authorities are unable to get involved in.

“As a council, we understand the value of conserving our high streets, which is why we have a variety of projects for enhancing our high streets and promoting them as great places to visit and shop.

“InvestSK continue to see increasing numbers of businesses opening shop in Grantham and enquiring about starting-up in the near future.”

More Journal readers gave their opinions on Facebook.

Corrine Rigby said: “It is very upsetting for staff, but that store shot themselves in the foot last year, when they were understocked, and expected you to serve yourself at their checkouts…this may have changed now, but it’s nowhere near as busy as it should be.

“It will be interesting to see if any other shops there, close down. Peacocks closed a couple of years ago, even though the Newark one was saved.”

Wilko employee Mike Holroyd said: “Gutted is an understatement. Only been working there since last July but I’ve had a blast and met some lovely people. As one door closes and all that...

And Mark Beecham added: “I am absolutely gutted to hear that Wilko is leaving Grantham. I’ve used this store every week of my adult life, it has been so convenient.

“Toiletries, hardware, DIY, petfood, stationery etc all at a very competitive price. Staff always helpful and friendly. Small enough to get your stuff in minutes and be on your way.

“Another nail in the Grantham retail disaster programme.”

The union describes the move as ‘another nail in the High Street’s coffin’ as 16 stores face closure with 15 jobs at the Wilko store in Grantham under threat.

Each store will have a 30-day consultation period while the union says permanent recruitment at each site will freeze.

Roger Jenkins, GMB national officer, said: “These closures are devasting for Wilko workers and the communities who use them.

“It’s yet another nail in the High Street’s coffin and GMB calls on councils and landlords to review commercial leases and offer lower rents.

“Empty high streets and shopping centres are in no one’s interest but with 400 shops a week closing, this is inevitable - unless the costs of premises can be reduced.

“GMB will now meet with Wilko members to discuss our next steps.”

The GMB says consultation with Wilko staff in Grantham will begin on May 7.

Wilko confirmed with the Journal that it will be closing its Grantham store in May and says the company has briefed its team members in Grantham of the decision to close the store because favourable lease terms cannot be agreed with the landlord.

A spokesperson said: “We have been looking at our options, but the reality is that we have been unable to reach an agreement with the landlord that makes this store commercially viable.”

Jerome Saint-Marc, Wilko CEO, said: “Our history is steeped in serving our customers and communities going back to 1930 but there’s no denying the way people shop with us and where they want to shop with us is changing.

“As a business we’re evolving and this includes working with landlords for more favourable terms, as well as looking at locations and store formats. We’ll continue to pull together to make our business better to secure the future of over 16,000 team members.

“We’ll be doing everything we can to support our affected team members who will be offered any available positions in nearby stores. We apologise to customers but will continue to offer them everything they need in nearby stores or via wilko.com.”

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