Threat to jobs as Leyland’s Homebase faces closure

Leyland's Homebase store is set to close

Leyland's Homebase store is set to close

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A large Leyland DIY store is on a ‘proposed closure’ blacklist, the Guardian can exclusively reveal.

Homebase, near Morrisons and Argos in Olympian Way, looks set to shut its doors in the near future, as bosses are in talks with staff over its planned closure.

The Home Retail Group, which owns Homebase and Argos, announced in 2012 that it intended to close 40 ‘unprofitable’ Homebase shops across the country within five years, as 65 store leases were due to expire in that time.

Stores affected include those that are losing money or that overlap with nearby Homebase shops. A spokesman told the Guardian: “Homebase can confirm that the business has entered a period of consultation with colleagues concerning the proposed closure of our store in Leyland.

“Colleagues at the store have been informed and we will be working with them over the next few weeks to support them as much as possible.

“As this consultation is in progress, we are unable to comment further at this time.”

The company would not confirm how many staff members will be affected, but Leyland councillor Derek Forrest, of Solicitor Direct, in Hough Lane, believes there will be a ‘reasonable’ number.

“When a company is closing, it has to consult employees facing redundancy,” he said. “It’s sad to see the loss of any source of employment, and I expect Homebase employs a reasonable number.

“Surprisingly, it seems that there is a fall in demand for DIY shops. The B&Q in Bamber Bridge is handing over half of its store to Morrisons. “It seems to be a problem nationwide. Leyland’s Homebase is a substantially sized store in a good area though. Argos seems to be thriving and Morrisons is there too, so it’s quite busy round there.”

The company has already shut its Homebase stores in Watford, Kirkcaldy, Taunton, Huddersfield, Burnley, Sutton-in-Ashfield, Sunderland, Loughborough and Grimsby.

In all instances, Plymouth-based homeware and leisure retailer The Range moved into the vacant units and took over the leases.

In one case, it was initially announced that The Range intended to invite all Homebase employees for an interview to work in the new store, but the Home Retail Group statement was later amended to say that “discussions are being held with colleagues to find alternative employment in neighbouring Homebase and Argos stores.”

The Range did not respond to the Guardian’s questions about any plans to move to Leyland, but Coun Forrest says he hopes the large unit isn’t left vacant.

“I hope someone else is prepared to take it on,” he said. “I don’t understand why The Range seems to be doing well and Homebase isn’t, though.”

He added: “I don’t think the proposed closure of Homebase is indicative of the picture in Leyland and South Ribble generally.

“The borough seems to be doing better at avoiding voids than places like Preston, and on the whole we’re not doing too badly in terms of retail

offer.

“That hole would need filling as soon as possible though.”