Booths Colleague at Till

Source: Booths

Booths has been investing heavily in the feel of its stores, which included having more staff on the shop floor (the store worker pictured is not thought to be among those affected by the Hale Barns closure)

Store workers at Booths Hale Barns branch in Greater Manchester are to be offered roles with Asda after the regional grocer announced it would close the store.

Booths has not confirmed when the Altrincham store, which opened in 2015, would close, however it has agreed to transfer the lease to Asda, which will open a supermarket at the site. As part of the process Booths is currently consulting with affected store workers who will be offered roles with Asda at the new store, under a TUPE transfer.  

Booths was closing the store after significant increases in its operating costs meant it was no longer possible to “see a future where the store will be profitable under the Booths model”. Transferring employment of store staff to Asda would protect the affect employees’ jobs, Booths said. 

“Closing any store is a very difficult decision and it is not a reflection of the hard work and dedication of our team at Hale Barns, or across the wider Booths business,” a Booths spokeswoman said. “Booths would like to thank all colleagues and customers for their support since the store opened over eight years ago.”

Booths sought to “provide some reassurance” to shoppers that it has “no plans” to close any more of its remaining 26 branches, which are located across Yorkshire, Cumbria, Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Lancashire.

Hale Barns is the first Booths store to close since the shuttering of its Media City Branch in Salford in 2021, following “significant losses” incurred throughout the Covid pandemic. Its closure comes after what has been a mixed couple of years for high-end Booths.

Sales fell 3.2% in the year to April 2023 in its latest published accounts, which caused profits to fall by 19.3%. Booths blamed higher costs, inflation and a non-comparable 53rd week of trading in the previous comparable financial period as being behind the fall. Sales picked up over Christmas, with Booths reporting “record” sales in the seven days to 25 December.

Booths has been investing heavily in the look and feel of its stores as part of an ongoing store renovation programme. When The Grocer met MD Nigel Murray in November, he said improving the scope and look of Booths’ counters would form part of this.

The chain is also looking to strip out self-service machines in all but two of its busiest supermarkets, and add more staff hours back onto the shop floor. Doing so would inevitably increase staffing costs, but would enhance the experience of its stores, Murray told The Grocer at the time.

The store overhaul comes alongside a significant investment in its loyalty scheme and digital infrastructure as well as its largely integrated supply chain. It includes the opening of a new 18,000 sq ft freezer facility in Preston, which would see the retailer take back control of picking and distribution for its frozen supply chain.