Argos update on boarded up Larne store
Speculation over the future of Argos in Larne has been ended this week with confirmation that the town’s store will re-open when Covid restrictions are lifted.
Boarding up of the windows at the Laharna Retail Park outlet had led to a flurry of speculation on social media that the shutters had come down for good.
As far back as June last year rumours were circulating in the east Antrim town that Argos was to close. However, that same month the local store re-opened after lockdown.
A few weeks ago a new sign was erected over the Larne store, but with the arrival of a new lockdown it closed in line with government regulations.
Social media speculation had included that Sainsbury’s, which owns Argos, is to move into the vacant Dunnes Stores in the town centre and that Argos would be relocated there. Such a setup is the case, for example, with the next nearest Argos store, which is based within the Sainsbury’s supermarket in Carrickfergus.
But other rumours have been circulating that the Larne store had become a victim of Covid-19 along with several other businesses in the town.
This newspaper approached Argos for a statement on the situation and a spokesperson said that any standalone Argos store which had not re-opened since March would remain permanently closed.
“We have not confirmed any other closures at this stage,” she emphasised.
But in a further statement the company spokesman confirmed that “The Larne Argos will re-open when government restrictions lift”.
The statement from the company said, however, that it was expected that a further 300 Argos standalone stores would close by March 2024 and a process of reviewing the estate of the company was underway.
“In November we shared plans to open 350 more Argos stores in Sainsbury’s and Argos collection points in supermarkets and convenience stores by March 2024.
“As a result of this, we will no longer need as many Argos standalone stores and so we have said that we will close around 420 branches, bringing the UK Argos standalone store estate to around 100 by March 2024. “120 Argos standalone stores have not reopened since we closed them back in March and these will remain closed permanently as a result of this update. While these stores have remained closed, many Argos colleagues have redeployed to help in other Argos stores and Sainsbury’s supermarkets. They will continue to do this during the consultation process and we will do everything possible to find them alternative roles within the business by the time this concludes in the New Year,” the statement added.
The statement referred to remarks by Simon Roberts, chief executive of J Sainsbury, when he announced a strategy update for the company in November.
Mr Roberts said that Argos sales had been strong for the past six months and the company had gained two million new customers. Waiving his potential annual bonus because of the unprecedented time of pandemic, he said that it was aimed to make Argos “a simpler, more efficient and more profitable business while still offering customers great convenience and value and improving availability”.
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