COLLEEN Fletcher MP has urged the council and West Midlands mayor Andy Street to produce ‘realistic plans’ for Coventry city centre, in the wake of IKEA’s closure announcement.
The major furniture retailer said this morning it would pull out of Coventry, blaming consistent losses at its bespoke store on Queen Victoria Road.
IKEA said it would support the 352 staff in Coventry to find work elsewhere.
Mrs Fletcher, MP for Coventry North-East, highlighted the ‘sense of crisis’ in Coventry retail, saying: “The decision to close down IKEA is another hammer blow to the retail sector in the city and adds to the sense of crisis facing retailers in Coventry.
“I am shocked and saddened by this sudden announcement which has come without any warning whatsoever.
“With such a large site becoming vacant I am concerned about what the future holds and will therefore be seeking urgent meetings with both IKEA and the Council to understand how this predicament has come about and ensure that plans are put in place as swiftly as possible to bring the site back into use.”
She added, “I am also concerned about the impact that this will have on the Council given that this site generates a significant level of business rates which goes to support council services. It is now important that all local agencies including the Metro Mayor and Local Authority step up to support our city and devise sensible and realistic plans for the future of the city centre.”
“This must be a very concerning time for the Coventry IKEA workforce but I am reassured that IKEA have confirmed that they will look to redeploy their employees or support them into alternative employment. This is such a sad day for Coventry.”
IKEA, which is run as a non-profit from the Netherlands, custom-built the Coventry store in 2007, on the site of a Midlands Co-op supermarket.
Coun Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet member for Jobs, said: “It’s very disappointing that IKEA has decided to consult on a proposal to close its store in the city centre.
“Our first priority is to support the people affected by the closure and the team at the Job Shop has already been in touch to see what support we can offer.
“There is quite a long lead in time to the actual closure so I hope we can work with people to identify new jobs and support then through job applications and interviews.
“We are also keen to sit down with IKEA to fully understand the reasons for this announcement. High streets up and down the country are struggling but our work will continue as we try to create a new environment to match the way local people and visitors want to shop and enjoy their city centre, and which developers want to invest in.”
Support community journalism by making a contribution
The Coventry Observer's team of journalists provide a trusted source of news, sport, entertainment and events going on in your area and issues which matter to you - both via our free weekly print edition and daily updates on our website.
Every contribution, however big or small, you can make will help us continue to do that now and in the future.
Thanks for reading this and the Coventry Observer.