Heart of England Co-op announces closing date of its Rugby store

The Heart of England Co-operative Society store in Chapel Street, Rugby
The Heart of England Co-operative Society store in Chapel Street, Rugby

The Heart of England Co-operative Society has today announced the date of the closure of its store in Rugby.

The Society’s electrical and furniture store in Chapel Street will cease trading on March 19.

The decision to close the store comes after the non-food division suffered ongoing substantial losses exceeding £10 million over the last five years – with Rugby alone sustaining losses of over £1 million as well as a capital investment cost of £2.95 million for its non-food division.

These losses stem from a major change in the buying habits of consumers with a growing trend towards online shopping – the result of which has had a detrimental effect on the High Street.

Ali Kurji, Chief Executive of the Heart of England Co-operative Society, said: “It will be a very sad day when we close our doors of the Rugby store for the last time in March. It is a huge loss, not just for the town and our members and customers, but also for us as a business.

“We have been part of the fabric of Rugby town centre since 1862 and we have felt incredibly proud to have served the town for so long.

“However, following a review of the non-food division we concluded that the store was no longer financially viable having lost over £1 million over five years. As a business, we have been hit by online sales.

“It is very difficult for high street stores to compete with the constant discounts and next-day delivery offered by internet retailers. We continued for as long as we could, but we have been left with no other option than to close if we are to ensure the future sustainability of the business.

“The closure of our non-food stores will enable us to continue to invest in the profitable areas of the business, namely food and funerals, to ensure that the Society continues to serve the needs of our members and the local community as we have over the years.

“In the meantime our priority will be our employees. A period of consultation will commence in the coming weeks although no further decisions will be made until this process has been completed.”

The Heart of England is one of the last major Co-operative Societies to have had a non-food division and over the last few years, the business has invested millions of pounds in refurbishing its sites.

In 2010, the Society spent £2.95 million on the Rugby store – representing the biggest single investment ever made by the Society, which formed part of a £7 million investment programme for the year to ensure that the shopping experience was of the highest quality.

The investment in its Chapel Street store – which saw its electrical department increase to 2.5 times the size of its previous base in Sheep Street – was made in the hope of driving footfall and increasing sales, but sadly it was not to be.