Waitrose to close Camden High Street store
Aldi set to move into supermarket space
27 June, 2018 — By Tom Foot
IT was, in the company’s own words, a “long-term ambition” to open a store in Camden Town, bringing mojito chicken cigarellos and edamame beans to NW1.
But just four years after Waitrose finally reached Camden High Street, it was revealed yesterday that the supermarket, so often the subject of jibes about middle-class life in north London, is to close its doors. It is the largest store in the company’s portfolio to shut in a list of five inner-city outlets that are being axed. The move was announced by John Lewis Partnership, parent owners of Waitrose, yesterday (Wednesday).
It said that the first half of the year would yield profits across the partnership “close to zero”. Aldi, the low-budget supermarket, is set to move into the Camden store, entering a fierce competition for customers.
Waitrose set up shop just a few doors from Marks and Spencer in 2014, while Tesco opened a Metro store close by last year. Lidl has a store on the opposite side of the street, with Sainsbury’s having one of its biggest branches in Camden Town.
More than 60 jobs are said to be at risk of being lost at the Camden Town branch of Waitrose. When it opened, it received more than 2,500 applications from people looking for a job at the store.
Waitrose retail director Ben Stimson said: “The sale of these shops is not something we take lightly, but we have accepted offers for them as it is sadly – despite the best efforts of everyone involved – not commercially viable for us to continue trading from them in the long term.”
He added that the company would aim to offer replacement jobs for staff “where possible”.
Aldi has said it will move into the shell, but there will be a six-month refurbishment.
The opening of the Waitrose store in Camden Town led to claims that this was another sign of gentrification, with the store often teased over its middle-class reputation. When it once asked Twitter users to finish the sentence: “I shop at Waitrose because…”, it led to sarcastic responses such as “because I was once in the Holloway Road branch and heard a dad say: ‘Put the papaya down, Orlando!’”
At its opening, the company said it had wanted “to open a shop in Camden for a long time”.
Waitrose shops in Finchley Road, West Hampstead and Holloway are not part of the partnership’s site sales.