ADMINISTRATORS overseeing the winding-up of the Woolworths chain of stores have confirmed that the Minehead branch will be among the last to close.
Deloitte has published individual dates for the final closure of each of the 807 stores nationwide
Up to 200 are due to close as early of December 27, and all of the remainder will be shut by January 5 at the latest.
The Minehead store, in The Avenue, is among those which will remain trading until January 5.
A countdown poster showing the remaining number of trading days for the store is on display in the shop window.
Woolworths has traded in Minehead since 1937 and the branch employs nearly 30 staff, most of them part-time and some of whom have worked in the store for more than 20 years.
The staff are due to be kept on for an additional three days after the closure before their jobs come to an end along with the other 30,000 Woolworths employees.
Woolworths went into administration in November with debts of £385 million and Deloitte has been unable to find a buyer for the group, although expressions of interest have been made for parts of it.
It is likely that up to 300 of the stores will be reopened by other retailers which want to buy the leases of certain locations, but there has been no confirmation of the future of the Minehead site.
Deloitte partner Neville Kahn said it was unclear how much of the company’s debt would be paid, but it was ‘clear the creditors and suppliers will not get paid in full’.
Woolworths’ staff will be entitled to compensation under the statutory redundancy payment scheme.
Ironically, Woolworths has been enjoying record sales in the past few days as bargain hunters flock to the stores to take advantage of the firm’s biggest ever sale with discounts of up to 50 per cent on offer.
Some trade press reports have suggested former Woolworths chief executive Sir Geoff Mulcahy could be talking with the company’s largest shareholder, Ardeshir Naghshineh, about a last-minute rescue package for the group.
Sir Geoff was earlier critical of the way Deloittehad handled Woolworths, describing it as ‘disgraceful’.
It was also suggest Mr Naghshineh had approached the Government about the possibility of bailout funding to save Woolworths.
The shopworkers’ union Usdaw has also criticised Deloitte’s decision to close all the stores and make staff redundant without allowing them an opportunity to transfer to any news owners who may purchase individual store leases.