Another blow for shopping centre

Argos Extra in The Galleries

Argos Extra in The Galleries

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Staff have been left in shock after another town centre shop announced it is to close.

Argos in The Galleries will close in July in another blow to the town centre which has already seen Morrisons and a KFC branch close this year.

The store’s future has been in doubt since Sainsbury’s announced earlier this year that it would close up to half of the 734 Argos stores in the country if its takeover of owner Home Retail Group, which also owns Homebase, was successful.

The takeover was agreed earlier in April for £1.4 billion and the Wigan Evening Post understands staff were told last week that the store would be closing in July.

A spokesman for the Home Retail Group said: “We can confirm that the Argos store in The Galleries Shopping Centre will close on Sunday, July 17.

“Store employees will enter into a period of consultation where we will help them to find alternative employment in neighbouring Argos stores.”

Sainsbury’s announced in January that if the takeover was successful, it would look at closing hundreds of stores in favour of bringing them into Sainsbury’s supermarkets as a concession.

Even so Usdaw, a union which represents retail employees, said the news had come as a shock to the staff.

Jim O’Neill, Area Organiser for Usdaw, said: “The Argos staff at Galleries Shopping Centre in Wigan are shocked to be told that the company is proposing to close their store on July 15.

“Management say that it is because they have been unable to negotiate a lease renewal that makes it viable to continue trading at that site. We are now entering a period of consultation where we will examine the business case and see if there is any opportunity to keep the store open and save jobs.

“We continue to provide our members with the advice, support and representation they require at this difficult and worrying time.”

Coun David Molyneux, Wigan Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for regeneration, said they were aware of the announcement and were working to help support staff at the store.

He said: “It is concerning to see another town centre presence the town centre disappear and our business engagement team are in there, talking to staff.

“It is part of the changing state of town centre’s retail offer at the moment and we all have to be vigilant and see what we can all do to help out in anyway we can.”

Home Retail Group did confirm that the borough’s three other Argos stores at Robin Park, Spinning Gate in Leigh and Parsonage Retail Park, Leigh, are not scheduled to close in the near future.

The Home Retails spokesman said: “Should that change colleagues will be notified as soon as we have more information.”

Coun Molyneux is standing for re-election for Labour in the Ince ward in today’s local elections, against Judith Atherton, conservative, and Stephen Winstanley, UKIP.