Co-op sale boost for historic outlet

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ONE of Mansfield town centre’s most historic shops is among 19 department stores set to be sold in a £7.5m takeover.

Anglia Co-operative Society has reached a conditional agreement for JE Beale PLC to buy its Westgate department store business.

The deal is likely to be completed by the end of May and includes 19 of the society’s 23 department stores – including the store on Queen Street in Mansfield.

It has been trading in the town centre since 1864 and was saved from closure five years ago when Anglia took over its operation.

The latest deal is expected to make Westgate part of one of the largest department store groups in the UK and bosses say the move is good news for the 61 staff at Mansfield and shoppers.

Anglia Co-operative chief executive John Chillcott said this week: “Beales are a long-established department store operator and combining the respective store portfolios into one enlarged group makes strong commercial sense for both parties.

“It improves job security and opportunities for the 900 staff employed in the 19 Westgate stores covered by the deal – including the 61 people employed at Mansfield.”

Anglia Co-operative members will still be able to earn points and redeem dividend at Westgate stores and Anglia will continue to operate the furniture, travel, optical and hairdressing departments within the stores.

Mr Chillcott added: “In difficult economic times the society is pleased to have secured the future of the Westgate Department stores and anticipates minimal disruption and change for customers both during and after the transaction.”

Retail union USDAW also says the deal is in the best interests of staff and could help to secure the long term future of the business.