BRITAIN’S high-street crisis deepened today as DIY retail chain Homebase announced the closure of 42 stores, threatening 1,500 jobs.
The closures are on top of 16 implemented since February and the shedding of 303 staff at the company’s Milton Keynes headquarters.
Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey cited government inaction as a factor in a crisis which is seeing household names disappear from the high street, along with thousands of jobs.
“Another household name is closing more stores, with workers and their families fearing for what the future might hold,” she said.
“Continued inaction from the Tories on the issues facing our high-street retailers has allowed the crisis facing the sector to spiral out of control.
“The government must now urgently deal with this crisis by fixing the tax disparity between high-street and online retailers, the broken business rates system and investing in the vital infrastructure, anchor institutions and skills our high streets need.
“If they continue to look on in ignorance, we risk our high streets and town centres becoming a thing of the past.”
Homebase has bounced from crisis to crisis for the last two years.
In 2016, the chain was bought by Australian DIY chain Wesfarmers for £340 million. The takeover proved a disaster and Wesfarmers sold Homebase earlier this year for £1 to Hilco, a “retail turnaround specialist.”
Retail workers’ union Usdaw said the closures confirmed staff’s worst fears. Usdaw national officer Dave Gill said: “Homebase staff feared the worst when the company was sold for just one pound following the disastrous ownership by Wesfarmers.
“I am seeking urgent clarification from Hilco about their long-term plan to turn the company around.
“Clearly there is a huge task ahead. It is crucial that the company listens to the staff and invests in their experience and expertise to turn the business around and again make it a success.
“This is best achieved through their trade union Usdaw. We are in touch with the company and continue to provide our members with the representation, support and advice they require at these uncertain and difficult times.”
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