Johnsons dry cleaners plan to close stores putting 36 North East jobs under threat

The national dry cleaning chain said it had reviewed leases on its 307 branch portfolio

Gareth Fuller/PA Wire A Johnsons Cleaners
A Johnsons Cleaners

Up to 36 jobs could be under threat in the North East after national dry cleaning chain Johnsons announced plans to close 109 stores.

The dry cleaning brand operated by Johnson Service Group plc has struggled to raise its like-for-like sales against a difficult high street landscape.

In a trading statement, the Group said it had reviewed the leases of its 307 branch portfolio and planned to close 109 stores – the majority of which have leases expiring in the next two years.

Johnson said the renewal of the leases “will not be financially viable” and expected to close the identified branches during the first half of the year.

While it is unclear which branches are earmarked for closure, the firm has started a consultation exercise with affected employees.

The remaining 198 “better performing premium branches” are said to be in more convenient locations.

In the trading update Johnson said like-for-like sales growth achieved in 2013 had not been replicated in 2014, although full-year results were thought to be in line with expectations.

Johnson said it had established collection and delivery points in office premises with a high concentration of staff during the year and was lining up a new online home collection and delivery service from mid 2015 – for higher value or bulky items.

The planned restructuring of the drycleaning business is estimated to cost the group £6.5m, and will be treated as an exceptional item in the first half of 2015.

A partnership with Waitrose has extended the Johnsons brand into 78 supermarkets so far, with a further 46 locations scheduled to open in the first quarter of this year.

Johnson has a number of stores in the North East, including Jesmond and Gosforth in Newcastle, Durham, Boldon and Stockton.

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