More than 70 jobs hang in the balance after Tesco announced it would close its Murraygate Metro branch – as council leader John Alexander slammed the “bizarre” approach of landlords Sports Direct.
The news emerged yesterday from trade union Usdaw and it was later confirmed by the supermarket giant.
Tesco said it had not taken the decision itself and had instead been served notice by the Murraygate building landlord, Sports Direct.
The doors will be shut on the busy shop at the beginning of November. The news sparked shock in the city with many branding it “yet another blow” for the Murraygate.
Mr Alexander admitted it was “devastating news” for staff, before taking aim at Sports Direct.
He said: “Quite what the logic of Sports Direct is, I’m unsure. It seems bizarre, particularly with the challenges on high streets across the UK, to turf out a secure tenant. Not only that but a secure tenant that employs 70 people and was likely to be in place for the foreseeable future. I’ve contacted Sports Direct to ask for an urgent explanation.”
Jack Faulds, Usdaw’s area organiser, said: “Our members are shocked and devastated by this news, which has come out of the blue.
“Staff are being briefed today and our reps are supporting them at this difficult time.
“Our priority is to keep members in work, primarily by seeking redeployment opportunities.We have already been in touch with Tesco about this and they have assured us they will do everything they can to support their employees. Our formal negotiations begin on September 30.”
The building has been a flagship retail outlet in Dundee for a number of national traders, having previously housed Woolworth and John Menzies stores before its current incarnation.
Shoppers in the city centre said they were stunned by the impending closure.
Alison Henderson, of Dundee Chamber and Commerce, said: “Hopefully because this particular closure is due to the building itself, Tesco will look to relocate this Metro store and perhaps offer some continuation of job roles to existing staff.
“The staff affected should be able to access public sector support with finding new roles.”
Lynn Duncan, from the Ninewells area, said: “At the weekend I’ll pop in. The Murraygate is getting derelict. It used to be such a lively upmarket place.”
Patricia Clark, from the Law Hill area, said: “I’m surprised it’s closing. I think it has only been open a few years.” Wendy Dunn, from Fintry, added: “When I’m in the town I come in here for odds and ends. It’s always been there. I’m quite gutted that it is closing. It’s going to have an impact on a lot of people.”
A spokesman for Tesco confirmed the store will close on November 2 and the firm said it was working with Usdaw to support affected colleagues.
The spokesman added: “We are really disappointed that the lease has been terminated at our city centre store.
“Unfortunately, this means it will close. To give us more time to help our colleagues there, we asked for a short extension, which was refused.
“Our priority now is supporting affected colleagues, including finding them roles in other Tesco stores, wherever possible.”