Rugby First hopes national chain will replace Co-op at Swan Centre

The Heart of England Co-operative Society is closing its store in Chapel Street
The Heart of England Co-operative Society is closing its store in Chapel Street

Rugby First is hoping a national chain will be tempted to move into the Swan Centre after the Heart of England Co-operative Society announced it was closing its store.

The town centre management company said it was keen to discuss options for the large unit in Chapel Street, Rugby, near Asda.

Last week, the Heart of England Co-operative Society announced it would be closing all its non-food stores across Warwickshire as they weren’t making enough money. The shops will be closed in phases and Rugby’s closing date is yet to be announced.

Aftab Gaffar, managing director of Rugby First, said: “The sites prominent location within the town centre may appeal to a national chain or anchor store for the Swan Centre which could be great news for the town.

“Rugby First will once again seek to work closely with agents to ensure the vacant premises are occupied quickly.

“The Co-op closure follows a national review by the Co-op Society. All its non-food division stores nationally will be closed in the face of increasing online competition and a difficult retail environment. Funds will be reinvested into the more profitable areas of the business.

“It is important to note that the town centre continues to attract new businesses with many new enquiries each week for businesses wishing to relocate or set-up in the town.

“We have a wonderful, clean, safe, attractive and easily accessible town centre that offers customers unique products and brands along with unrivalled customer service.”

Mr Gaffar added: “People enjoy the town centre shopping experience and café culture that exists in Rugby and we are confident that they will continue to support their local town centre.”

The Heart of England Co-operative Society has applied to build 62 homes on Oakfield Recreaction Ground, in Bilton Road.

In response to the store closure, Save Oakfield Group released the following statement.

“Like other Rugby residents, the Save Oakfield Group is saddened to hear about the impending closure of the Co-op’s town centre store. There is seldom an ideal time to lose a job, but as the Christmas season approaches the timing of these closures couldn’t be much worse. We wish all Co-op employees affected good luck in their future job searches.

“Unfortunately the Co-op’s own staff are just the most recent and most directly affected victims of the Heart of England Co-op’s single-minded and non-collaborative approach to maximising profits at the expense of the community.

“The Save Oakfield Group has been fighting the Heart of England Co-op for a year.

“Our experience indicates their aim is for one thing and one thing alone. To maximise the profit on assets sold, with no consideration for community needs and the impacts on individual’s lives.

“As local residents we are sorry to see another town centre store closing but had the Co-op put more time into fostering better relations with the local community on matters of development, regeneration and retail, this position may never have occurred.

They’re closing one of our largest stores now, will we let them destroy an irreplaceable park next? Only Rugby Borough Council have the power to decide over that.”

News of the closure comes after Marks and Spencer announced the closing date for its town centre branch (November 17) and opening of its new store (November 18) at Elliott’s Field Shopping Park, off Leicester Road.