Finance

From Somerfield to Co-op, then Budgens, now bust: 34 stores passed around by retail giants to close with 815 workers losing their jobs

Thirty-four Budgens stores that were parcelled off and passed around between retail groups will close with the loss of 815 workers’ jobs, it was announced today.

The stores (see list below) were owned by Food Retailer Group, which bought them last July from the Co-operative Group, which had in turn converted them from Somerfield stores after buying that supermarket group nine years ago.

But Food Retail Group went into administration a month ago after experiencing ‘difficult’ trading conditions. The firm was an arm of business restructuring specialists Hilco Capital, who appointed PwC as administrator last month – but the accountancy firm has failed to find a buyer for the group.

Food Retailer Group bought the Budgens stores from the Co-operative Group in July.

But the Budgens brand is owned by food wholesale giant Booker, which is currently in the process of being taken over by Tesco, in a groceries market deal that will create a £60billion group.

Mike Denny, joint administrator at PwC, said: ‘Unfortunately, we have been unable to find a buyer and it is not commercially viable to continue trading the stores.

‘We are working closely with the Co-op, Usdaw and the relevant government agencies to ensure that all employees receive the maximum levels of practical and financial support through the redundancy process.’

The 34 stores are among 36 Co-operative Food outlets that Food Retailer Group bought from the Co-operative Group in July last year.

At the time the firm said ‘there are no planned redundancies’ and stores will continue ‘trading as usual’.

Those stores had originally been Somerfield stores, which the Co-op deemed unprofitable eight years after its £1.6billion takeover of the Somerfield group during the heat of the financial crisis in 2008.

All 36 stores were re-branded as Budgens supermarkets, with 920 staff transferred to the new business.

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