Co-op sells off department stores

CO-OP department and home stores across East Anglia came under new ownership today.

CO-OP department and home stores across East Anglia came under new ownership today.

Vergo Retail Ltd officially took over the Carr Street department store as well as homestores in Felixstowe, Stowmarket, and other towns across the region from 10am.

However the East of England Co-op has retained the freehold ownership of the stores and has leased the buildings to the new operator.

The deal protects the employment of around 350 Co-op employees at the stores concerned and within the associated non-food distribution depots, all of whom have transferred to Vergo Retail.

It also lifts the threat of closure that had been hanging over some stores in Norfolk and Essex.

Richard Samson, Chief Executive of the East of England Co-op said: “I am pleased that we have successfully concluded this deal, which secures continuing employment for all of our colleagues in the stores concerned and we wish them every success with their new employer and extend sincere thanks to them for their past service.

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“The new operators will be taking over the running of a well established group of stores with a large number of loyal customers and we anticipate the future bringing positive benefits to all concerned.

“The stores involved total less than six per cent of the Society's total business and we will continue to be the largest independent retailer in East Anglia operating over 200 trading outlets.

“Our multi-million pound capital development programme is also continuing, with several major food store refurbishments having already been completed in recent months and more to follow.”

David Thompson for Vergo Retail Ltd., said: "We are delighted to have expanded our business into the East of England and look forward to a successful future for our new stores.

“Major cosmetic changes may not be immediate, as initially my team will work closely with our new colleagues to review their product offer and develop a strategy for improvements."

Norrie Slater, Divisional Officer, Eastern Division of USDAW said: “We are extremely pleased that this transfer has been successfully concluded guaranteeing the employment of around 350 employees.”

Any orders previously placed with the Co-op's Department and Home Stores will be fulfilled and any deposits in place are secure with Vergo Retail taking over all obligations to customers, including any returns or guarantees on past purchases.

The online electrical store launched last year by the East of England Co-op will continue to operate enabling a wide range of electrical goods to be sourced from their local Co-op through the web site at while still enjoying the added benefit of Members' Dividend on these purchases.

The East of England Co-operative Society stores involved are:

Department Stores:

Carr Street, Ipswich and adjoining Food Hall

St Stephen's Street, Norwich

Market Place, Great Yarmouth

Long Wyre Street, Colchester

Station Road, Clacton-on-Sea


Hamilton Road, Felixstowe

Tavern Street, Stowmarket

Oxford Road, Clacton

Peartree Road, Stanway

Newland Street, Witham

Main Road, Dovercourt

Jewellery Department:

Eld Lane, Colchester

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