Heart of England Co-operative is closing down its Rooms department store in Coventry’s city centre after a continued downturn within the society’s non-food sector. Earlier this month, the co-operative announced it had reached an agreement with EDG Property for the sale of the store.
With the continued growth of online retailing and an increase in the market share of multinationals, Heart of England stores faced difficulties in maintaining sales growth. The turnover for the society’s non-food division has decreased from £14,702m to £14,102m in 2014 and £13,794m in 2015. The 140,000ft department store on Corporation Street has three floors and was first opened half a century ago.
Ali Kurji, chief executive of Heart of England, said: “It is with great regret that the board has taken this decision and indeed it is one which has certainly not been taken lightly. However, the retail environment has become increasingly challenging and it is vital that we take steps to safeguard the society’s position to ensure the business continues to be sustainable.
“In the meantime our priority will be our employees and a period of consultation will commence with immediate effect.”
In April 2014, Heart of England closed the Electric store in Kenilworth and all the staff were given the opportunity to re-locate to other stores.
Based in Solihull, EDG Property is known for developments such as the Cube and the Mailbox in Birmingham. Neil Edginton, managing director of EDG Property, said: “It’s an exciting time to be investing in Coventry, which is going through transformational change.
“The local authority is investing heavily into new public realm, which we believe will be a real game changer for the city. We are already working hard with our design team and the council, so that we can bring something new to Coventry. As with all of our projects, our aim is on creating a ‘place-changing’ scheme rather than just a building.”
Rooms was one of Coventry’s landmark stores and was best known for its Santa’s sleigh ride, which will now take place at the Transport Museum.
Heart of England has a network of over 50 food, home and living, travel and funeral outlets across Coventry, Warwickshire, South Leicestershire and Northamptonshire. In February the society announced it would market the property and advised staff about the market evaluation. The store is due to close on 24 October 2015.