The favourite grocer of the middle classes, Waitrose, is shutting seven more shops with the discounter Lidl swooping on three in renewed signs of the rapidly changing retail market.
Waitrose began as a small grocery shop in Acton, north London, 115 years ago. It has 334 shops, employs 52,590 people and merged with John Lewis in 1937.
However Lidl, which arrived in Britain in the 1990s, controls a bigger slice of the grocery market than Waitrose as customers have been lured by its cut-price offerings since the recession. The German company has 760 shops.
Waitrose admitted that it had not been able to make a profit on the seven affected stores and would be selling four outlets in Bromley, Kent, Oadby in Leicester, Sandhurst in Berkshire and Wollaton in Nottingham and closing another three in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, Stevenage in Hertfordshire and Waterside in British Airways’ headquarters near Heathrow.
The grocer said that it had started consultation with the 677 employees at risk. “We haven’t taken this decision lightly but we have to do what’s right for the business as a whole,” Mark Gifford, Waitrose & Partners director of shop trade, said.