Martin's newsagents in Stortford and Sawbridgeworth reprieved after McColls Retail Group is saved by Morrisons
Staff at three Martin's newsagents in Bishop's Stortford and Sawbridgeworth are breathing a sigh of relief after their jobs were rescued.
It was announced on Friday (May 6) that McColl's Retail Group, the convenience store and newsagent chain with over 1,000 outlets across the UK, would be going into administration.
The group includes shops under the Martin's brand in Snowley Parade on Stortford's Parsonage estate, Thorley Neighbourhood Centre at Thorley Park and Bell Street in Sawbridgeworth, all of which offer post office services.
McColl's was put into administration by PwC on Monday (May 9) but was immediately sold to Morrisons.
The supermarket group will pay off McColl's £170m debts, take on its 1,160 shops and 16,000 staff, plus its pension schemes, with 2,000 members.
The two businesses are major partners, with Morrisons already supplying McColl's convenience stores with stock and McColl’s operating more than 200 convenience shops under the Morrisons Daily brand.
Morrisons beat a rival offer from EG Group, the petrol station empire owned by the billionaire Issa brothers, who co-own supermarket chain Asda.
The threat of McColl's going into administration had raised fears that if a buyer was not found there could be UK-wide store closures and job losses.
The group has struggled financially as a result of soaring costs due to supply chain disruption, inflation and its large debt burden.
Adam Leyland, editor-in-chief of The Grocer magazine, told the BBC he did not know if Morrisons would keep all of McColl's stores but that it had committed to take them on for now.
"Crucially what this allows is for the Morrisons Daily roll-out to continue," he said. "Those stores are less than a quarter of the total McColl's estate, but adding five a week it will be a sizeable chain in the not-too-distant future and those stores are definitely profitable. The challenge will be disposing of the rump of rubbish ones. But Morrisons is in a better position to do that than McColl's was."
A Post Office spokesperson said: “McColl’s has been a long-standing partner for Post Office, providing local communities across the country with access to our products and services.
"We have been aware of the challenges faced by McColl's and over the last several months we have undertaken considerable work and contingency planning to minimise the impact on customers should any branches be affected.
"We continue to monitor the situation closely and will keep communities updated should there be any changes to their local service as a result of McColl's announcements.”