Threat to 500 jobs as Waitrose to shut five under-performing stores

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Nearly 700 jobs are under threat at Waitrose as it embarks on a management restructure and a shake-up of its branch network. 

The supermarket chain said 498 staff would face redundancy consultation amid plans to shut five under-performing stores.

Around 180 roles are also likely to be lost over the next three years following a restructure of management roles which will affect the lion's share of its branches. 

However, the firm said plans were under way to open eight new shops and create 600 jobs this year. 

Waitrose retail director Ben Stimson said: "We'd always try hard to avoid closing branches but we review how our shops are doing commercially and respond where we have to.

"We'll be consulting with our branch partners on these proposed closures and will make sure they have all the support they need."

The stores earmarked for closure are at the Bircherley Green Shopping Centre in Hertford, Two Rivers Shopping Centre in Staines, Portland Street in Leek, St Benedict's Court in Huntingdon, and Queen Street in Cardiff. 

However, Waitrose said it will launch new stores in Haywards Heath, Banbury, Bromsgrove, Finchley, Addlestone and Winchmore Hill alongside outlets at Leatherhead and Faringdon in Oxfordshire, which have already opened. 

Waitrose notched up 3.4% sales growth year on year in the 12 weeks to January 29, according to data from Kantar Worldpanel published on Tuesday.