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34 jobs are lost as supermarket to close
WORKERS are reeling from the news their jobs are to go as a supermarket shuts.
The Somerfield store, in High Street, Billericay, will close next month with the loss of 34 jobs.
The store was taken over by the Co-op in March 2009, but its closure means its three full-time staff and 31 part-time staff will all be out of work.
A worker at the store, who didn’t want to be named said: “It is really sad news the shop is closing.
“Lots of people here are going to lose their jobs and in these times it’s so hard to get a new job. It’s devastating.”
The news comes as a blow for the high street as Billericay Office supplies, Revere hairdressers and P and T Bait and Tackle have also shut in recent weeks.
It leaves the town with two supermarkets – Waitrose and Iceland.
Trevor Draper, who owns the Cook Shop in Billericay, and is the former head of the town’s chamber of commerce, said: “This is disappointing news and it worries me what is going to take the shop’s place.
“I think we are finally seeing the recession hit our high street and we are at tipping point, where we have seen lots of shops shut recently.
“We need another grocery store in the town, having two is not enough.
“I want to know what our politicians are doing to improve our high street.”
Phil Turner, deputy leader of Basildon Council and ward councillor for Billericay West, said: “I am concerned for the workers and hope they find new jobs in these difficult times.
“This is a large unit in the high street and I would like to see it retained as retail and not turned into another leisure establishment. We have enough of them and it will tip the balance of the town.
“I think Somerfield has been squeezed out since Iceland opened and with Waitrose across the road, it turned into the middle competition. I think a Next or Marks & Spencers would do well in the town.”
A spokesman for the Co-operative Food and Somerfield, said: “The Co-operative Group, which runs the Somerfield store, can confirm the shop in Billericay, is due to close on Saturday, July 7. Staff at the store have been informed of the decision, which has been taken with the greatest reluctance and is due to the store’s lease coming to an end.
“It is not, in any way, a reflection on the commitment and hard work of the store team.
“Every effort will be made to redeploy as many as possible of the three full-time and 31 part-time staff with the Co-operative, or to help them find alternative employment.”