A CO-OP store in Thurso has been sold to the McColl’s Retail Group as part of a £117 million deal for almost 300 shops.
The store in the town’s Mount Pleasant Road is expected to formally change hands in early May, according to a spokesman for the Co-op.
He confirmed the sale but stressed that the staff’s jobs had been protected. The Co-op employs 16 full and part-time people at the Thurso store.
The spokesman said: “An important consideration for us was that colleagues would have continued employment as a result of this sale. This agreement ensures that the staff will continue in their jobs and have their terms and conditions maintained post-sale.
“The decision to sell the store is in no way a reflection on the hard work and commitment from those working at the store,” he added. The spokesman pointed out that the Co-op Group agreed the sale of 298 of its smaller food stores across the UK as part of its strategy to refocus its store estate on convenience, own-brand led shops.
The sale of the stores, which are 1700 square feet on average, was agreed in July last year but was subject to approval from the Competition and Markets Authority and McColl’s shareholders.
Staff transferred to McColl’s under TUPE arrangements which preserves their terms and conditions.
Co-op Food’s strategy has seen its like-for-like sales in its convenience estate grow by four per cent.
The proceeds from the sale of the stores are to be re-invested to help deliver the Co-op’s aim to become the most frequently visited food retailer in the UK. In the last two years it has opened almost 200 new outlets.
Co-op Food chief executive Steve Murrells said: “The business continues to move forward with a clear momentum and purpose to deliver a compelling and convenient shopping experience for our millions of customers and members.
“The proceeds will be re-invested to drive sustainable growth. I’m delighted that all 3808 colleagues will transfer to McColl’s on the same terms and conditions.”