Co-op still ‘excellent’ in face of closure

NDET 15-7-13 RKH 5 Chesterfield Co-op off Elder Way and Knifesmithgate.

NDET 15-7-13 RKH 5 Chesterfield Co-op off Elder Way and Knifesmithgate.

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Heartbroken staff and shoppers are bracing themselves for the closure of one of Chesterfield’s most-loved and traditional shops.

Midlands Co-operative Society is to close its Fashion and Home department store off Elder Way and Knifesmithgate including its warehouse by July 27 after it has struggled with changes in the retail sector including online shopping.

A Midlands Co-operative Society spokesman said: “I understand the sentiments many of our customers and colleagues feel and would like to stress this was a very difficult decision. We are sad to lose the store.”

The store’s closure is part of the company’s plans, which were originally announced in January, to shutdown nine of its Fashion and Home stores nationwide affecting 388 store employees including 114 workers at Chesterfield with attempts to redeploy people where possible.

The company said its other businesses have been flourishing but it had been incurring substantial losses from the Fashion and Home operation. Shoppers have been saddened at the loss of a store which has been around for decades and many praised the Co-op for its customer service.

Opera singer Rachel Nicholls, of Chesterfield, said: “The staff there did an amazing job of transforming my wedding dress so that it will be perfect. They are very keen to offer excellent service right up until they cease to trade.”

Chesterfield Borough Council leader John Burrows, Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins and NE Derbyshire MP Natascha Engel have all expressed sadness but Cllr Burrows said he was confident the town would bounce back.

Chief executive Martyn Cheatle, of the Midlands Co-operative Society, previously stated the society would not have taken this decision without exploring all options to improve the business.