Littlehampton suffers new blow with second store set to close

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MORRISONS is closing its convenience store in Littlehampton town centre, less than two years after the shop, in Surrey Street, opened

The M Local store, which opened in September, 2013, creating more than 20 new jobs, is one of 23 of the grocery chain’s smaller outlets which it announced would close after making a £792million pre-tax loss on the back of falling sales.

The closure of the Surrey Street Morrisons is a further blow to Littlehampton town centre, following the decision by Waitrose to close its supermarket in Avon Road and relocate to Rustington in a couple of months’ time.

Then town mayor Joyce Bowyer was joined by Littlehampton Carnival Queen Megan Swift and carnival mascot Hampton the Hedgehog to officially open the M Local branch, in the former Blockbusters video premises.

However, at a busy end of the town, competition was fierce, with Iceland, Sainsbury’s and Lidl all within a short walk of the M Local, which struggled to attract trade, as the company admitted yesterday.

A Morrisons spokesperson said: “Working closely with colleagues at the store, we have looked carefully at whether the store can be turned around but unfortunately have found no way of making it viable. The store will therefore close.

“We are continuing to consult with colleagues to reduce the risk of redundancies and redeploy as many of them as possible around our business.”

A total of 26 jobs were on offer when the store opened, though only 20 were taken up at the time.

Manager Michael Simpson was optimistic about the future when he spoke of the morning of the opening, saying: “My head has been a real blur this morning. It’s been a long time coming so we’re really happy it’s happened.”

He added: “Littlehampton is a great place so we’re all very excited to be opening a store here. I want to know my customers by name and really get to know what matters to them.”