Shock as Worthing Somerfield to close

The Somerfield branch in The Guildbourne Centre, Worthing
The Somerfield branch in The Guildbourne Centre, Worthing

SHOPKEEPERS have spoken of their shock and concern after the news of Somerfield closing in the Guildbourne Centre

The Co-operative Group, which owns the Somerfield chain, officially confirmed it would be closing its store in the Guildbourne Centre on February 25.

A spokeswoman for The Co-operative Group blamed the store’s poor trading performance for the closure, adding the decision was made “reluctantly”.

She said: “Staff at the store have been informed of the decision, which has been taken with the greatest reluctance.

“Every effort will be made to redeploy as many as possible of the 15 full-time and five part-time staff with The Co-operative, or to help them find alternative employment.”

Shop owners reacted with concern to the news.

Parking

Gavin O’Brien, owner of Easy Weigh, said: “I think it’s awful news. Having the shop is really good for footfall and it’s a shame it’s going.

“I think you can partly blame the NCP car parking, because they’ve made the cost of parking near the centre prohibitive.

“It’s a great shame because there will be a dark corner there now.

“I feel sorry for the staff. Unfortunately, it reflects the general economic situation in the country. It’s been a long, sad, road downhill for Somerfield.”

Paul Wickenden, manager of Guilbourne Meats, said: “It’s never good news to hear another store is closing but, on a positive note, we have a good following of regular customers. As a retailer, you’re never happy to see any shop go, but I think Somerfield and us are different. Our shop offers good deals and is more of an independent shop.”

Blow

Town centre manager Sharon Clarke described the loss of Somerfield as a “blow to the centre”, but said the decision was not a surprise.

But she dismissed fears the Guildbourne Centre would close, saying individual businesses had their own leases with the company that owns the centre, Factory Outlets.

“There’s been a bit of concern since the Co-op took over the site in 2009 and the news doesn’t come as a surprise,” she said.

“But the loss of a site is always disappointing and it’s not good for the other businesses because it brings in footfall.

“It’s a blow for the Guilbourne Centre, but, hopefully, the commercial agents can attract someone to take over the site,” she said.

Mrs Clarke said there were no businesses lining up to replace Somerfield, but was hopeful there would be more interest now the site was being advertised by commercial agents Michael Jones.