DOZENS of store jobs have been put at risk after a company sold its Wearside store to a rival firm.
The Co-operative Group has confirmed it has sold its Houghton supermarket, in Mautland Square, to German grocer Lidl.
Regrettably, this means that the staff at this store are at risk of redundancy. We are working closely with Lidl to ensure that all staff affected by the transfer are consulted in the appropriate manner.Spokesman for Co-op Food
Bosses say that a total of 54 members of staff will transfer to the new company, but many of those roles are now “at risk of redundancy”.
The store opened more than a decade ago on the former Houghton library site.
As part of the change, the store is expected to be closed for an “extended period of time”.
Lidl management are expected to meet with workers in Houghton later this week.
Coun Colin Wakefield, who serves Copt Hill ward, said the news was disappointing, as he thinks the area ideally needs a couple of supermarkets in operation. He said: “From a personal point of view, I’m disappointed the Co-op have not made more of their position as the sole supermarket in Houghton town centre.
“I understand Asda were also vying to buy the site too.
“We need a couple of vibrant supermarkets to help regenerate the town before it’s too late.”
A spokesman for the Co-operative Group, said: “I can confirm that we have agreed to sell our food store in Houghton to Lidl.
“The Co-operative Group continually reviews its retail estate, and we have made the decision to focus on smaller convenience stores and sell those trading outlets that do not align with our strategy.
“All 54 staff will transfer to the new operator, and it will continue to trade as a Co-operative store until it transfers to Lidl.
“However, we understand that following completion of the acquisition, the store will be closed for an extended period of time whilst building works are carried out.
“Regrettably, this means that the staff at this store are at risk of redundancy.
“We are working closely with Lidl to ensure that all staff affected by the transfer are consulted in the appropriate manner.
“The consideration to sell the store is in no way a reflection on the hard work and commitment from colleagues working at the Houghton store.”