Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

End of an Era as Co-Op Moves On

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

End of an Era as Co-Op Moves On

Article excerpt

Byline: By Nick Whitten

Stores played a massive part in daily life

Regular trips to the Co-op were once so much a way of life for thousands of us in the North East.

People would loyally do their shopping in their local Co-op store earning a dividend in the process which they could save up for the future.

There were literally hundreds of Co-operative stores in the region. In 1993 there were nearly 350 Co-op stores.

Around 6,500 people were employed in the region's 170 food stores, 36 department stores, 21 travel agencies, 16 pharmacies, 17 car dealerships and 56 funeral homes.

But the numbers are dropping with less than 300 Co-op stores and 1,000 less employees in the region today including a significant drop in the number of food stores to 120.

The retail giant is beginning to feel the pressure from modern shopping habits with people nowadays favouring use of the internet or carrying out weekly shopping trips in out-of-town shopping centres.

The Chronicle revealed yesterday that the future of five more North East stores is under review in Blyth, Hexham, Annfield Plain, Shildon and Spennymoor.

Stores are already earmarked for sale or closure by February 2007 in Amble and Berwick in Northumberland, Chester-le-Street in County Durham as well as the Gateshead store in Jackson Street and the Newcastle store in Newgate Street.

The Newcastle department store has long been the flagship store for the North East, but it may now be redeveloped, although the Co-op is keen to stress that no definite decision has been made as yet.

The Co-operative movement began in the Lancashire mill town of Rochdale in 1844.

Twenty-eight working men, angry about the prices and quality of food, scraped together enough capital to open their own shop. The first store in the North East opened in Blaydon in December 1858 and from then on more and more stores exploded on to the scene. …

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