Major retail chain with 1,400 stores closes ‘no longer sustainable’ store in the city center, leaving shoppers upset

A major retail chain with 1,400 stores is to close a popular city center store, leaving shoppers devastated.

Bridgwater’s WHSmith property has gone up for sale following a shock closure announcement.

WHSmith is about to close its Bridgwater branch and the property is up for saleCredit: Alamy

The stationery retailer will permanently down the shutters of its Bridgwater branch in Somerset on September 7, 2024.

A spokesperson for WHSmith said it was “no longer sustainable to trade from the site”.

The decision was made as the store’s lease was about to expire.

And the property has already hit the market to rent for £52,000 a year, or to buy for £750,000.

The news of the closure came as a surprise to many locals, despite intense speculation about the store future.

The building features a retail area of ​​4,240 square meters on the ground floor, as well as retail space of 491 square meters, plus 2,840 square meters of support accommodation on the first floor.

The first floor can be accessed from both the front and rear of the building and is reached via a staircase at the rear of the store that leads to a kitchen, staff room, two offices and men’s and women’s toilets.

WHSmith said they were “disappointed” but thanked customers for their support over the years.

A spokesperson for WHSmith said: “We can confirm that the WHSmith store in Bridgwater will close on Saturday, September 7.

“It is no longer sustainable to continue trading from this location and the decision has been made to close the store due to the impending lease.

“We are disappointed to lose our presence in Bridgewater and would like to thank all our customers for their support and for shopping with us.

“We are also extremely grateful for the efforts of our colleagues in the stores, who we will support in this transition and redeploy to nearby stores where possible.”

The 1p WHSmith stationary essential that turns your car into a cinema

Viewers on social media were quick to share their thoughts on the news.

One wrote: “I like walking into that shop, think it’s the only shop around here that sells postcards.”

Another said: “They need to stop constantly raising the rent in these places, then we might have somewhere to live and buy decent shops.”

A third commented: “Well that’s it… The city is officially dead.”

Despite the closure, the retailer will benefit from more stores in the near future.

It comes after news that WHSmith plans to open 110 new stores at airports, train stations and hospitals this year.

More than 50 of these will be in the US and 15 in Britain.

The stationer already has 580 locations in various worldwide travel locations.

Travel sales in Britain grew by 15 percent in the 20 weeks to January, but it is in the US where the chain has the potential to flourish.

Chief executive Carl Cowling said: “I am particularly excited about the substantial growth opportunities that exist in the (US) market.

“The group is in its strongest position ever as a global travel retailer.”

Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor, said: “WH Smith benefits from ‘regular’ customers in many key locations such as train stations, motorway services, hospitals and especially airports.

“The return of near-normality in air travel has been a particular boon to this segment of the group.”

Sales on the British shopping streets did less well and fell by four percent.

As a result, the group aims to reduce costs by up to £10 million.

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