Johnson dry cleaning branch closures threaten 400 jobs

Johnson Cleaners plans to close 109 stores this year.

Johnson Cleaners plans to close 109 stores this year. - Credit: PA

The UK’s largest dry-cleaning chain said today it will close more than a third of its stores this year in a move set to impact on hundreds of jobs.

Johnson Service Group plans to close 109 of its 307 Johnson Cleaners branches as it continues a shift away from traditional high street locations towards collection and delivery points within supermarkets.

The company has not disclosed how many jobs will go but, with a typical store employing four people, the planned closures may affect more than 400 jobs.

Johnson, which previously closed more than 100 branches in 2012, said the dry-cleaning business failed to grow sales last year despite several initiatives to reach new customers.

It has established collection and delivery points in office premises with a high concentration of staff and now has a presence within 78 Waitrose stores, with a further 46 locations due to be opened in the early part of this year.

The company is also planning to launch an online home collection and delivery service for higher-value or bulky items.

The majority of stores set for closure have leases expiring within the next two years, with renewal not seen as financially viable.

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Johnson said: “We are commencing a consultation exercise with affected employees and anticipate that branches will close during the first half of the year.

“The remaining 198 better-performing premium branches are in more convenient locations with an infrastructure capable of receiving dry cleaning from various collection and delivery points.”

Johnson’s current network includes town-centre stores in Ipswich (where it also has an out-of-town drive-in branch), Bury St Edmunds, Sudbury, Stowmarket and Diss.