NEWS that Morrisons supermarket in Wigan town centre is to close down has been met with a mixture of shock and sadness.
It was confirmed yesterday that the Wigan outlet would be one of seven in the chain to be shut across the UK.
It’s a sad day for the town, but even sadder for loyal staff some of which have been there since Whelan’s was bought by Morrisons years agoSimon Robshaw
The Wigan Evening Post has been told that staff were handed notice of the closure on Monday that the supermarket - which was one of the first stores to occupy the shopping centre when it was opened in the late 1980s - will cease trading in April, but this has not been confirmed.
Usdaw, the union that represents shop, distributive and allied workers, said the store closure proposal is “devastating news” for the staff affected.
Usdaw national officer Joanne McGuinness said: “This is devastating news for the staff in the seven stores that Morrisons intends to close.
“We will now enter into full and meaningful consultation meetings on these proposals, where we will look closely at the company’s business case.
“Our priority is to maximise employment within Morrisons and keep as many stores open as possible,seek redeployment opportunities if a shop is closed and minimise compulsory redundancies.
“We will support, advise and represent our members throughout this difficult period of uncertainty.”
The announcement was met with shock, anger and disappointment locally.
Mike O’Connor, speaking on behalf of traders from the neighbouring Wigan indoor market, said: “It feels like another nail in the coffin for The Galleries. This sort of thing is bound to have a massive knock-on effect on other businesses including the market hall.
“I came into work yesterday morning and all the traders were in a huddle, very concerned that Morrisons had put all the staff on 90 days’ notice. Some of our traders are related to staff there and I saw at least one person in tears.
“There is already a dwindling number of shops in this part of town. The future of the Galleries Morrisons has been questioned on several occasions over the years. On one occasion it looked set to move to another part of the arcade and there were also rumours it might have close if an aborted store share plan with the B&Q hypermarket at Newtown had not fallen through.
Wigan Council’s specialist employment and business engagement officers are offering support to employees affected by the announcement that Morrisons in Wigan town centre could face closure.
Staff from the council’s Business Engagement Team and Town Centre Unit attended the store yesterday offering support to staff during the consultation period which has been announced by Morrisons.
Coun David Molyneux, Wigan Council’s cabinet member for regeneration. said: “This is very disappointing and upsetting news for all Morrisons staff who are affected by this announcement.
“The council is reacting quickly to this announcement by offering immediate employment support to those staff involved.”
On social media, Wiganers reacted to the news with sadness.
Simon Robinshaw posted: I started with the company at Wigan, gutted for all my former workmates past and present, it’s a sad day for the town, but even sadder for loyal staff some of which have been there since Whelan’s was bought by Morrisons years ago and moved from King Street to the Galleries. If you have worked there you would know the spirit of the place and people and that’s a real tragedy
Cody Jane posted: The staff here have always been lovely when we’ve come in over the years at 8am to buy booze after a rave and didn’t judge us one bit! Sorry about your job.
Jenny Fitton posted: Feel sorry for all the staff losing their jobs and also for people who rely on public transport ... ok there’s other supermarkets but you need a car to get there and not everyone drives. Great shame.
James Nestor posted: Larger out of town supermarkets with large free car parks all over the borough, plus the rise of budget supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl. Stores like this one have been fighting a losing battle for some time unfortunately.
Diane Holden posted: Oh dear, a lot of people are going to struggle more now as people need this to be open for work and shopping, so it needs to be replaced with something ... Asda, Tesco? People can’t always just get in a car and go. Shocking.