WH Smith confirms South Shields store closure - high street giant is the latest big name to quit King Street

Another retail giant is to quit South Shields following WH Smith’s announcement that it is to close its town centre branch.

Wednesday, 26th August 2020, 10:47 am
Updated Thursday, 27th August 2020, 12:35 pm

The company, which has 575 High Street stores nationwide, has confirmed it will shut its King Street premises in October.

It has yet to reveal how many staff will lose their jobs or if any will be redeployed elsewhere.

A statement said: “We can confirm that the WH Smith store in South Shields will be closing at the end of October when the lease expires.

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Queues outside WH Smith, in King Street, for the midnight release of a new Harry Potter book in a picture from the 2000s.
Queues outside WH Smith, in King Street, for the midnight release of a new Harry Potter book in a picture from the 2000s.

"We’d like to thank all our local customers for shopping with us. They can continue to buy our great range of products at our nearby store in Newcastle.”

The stationery, newspapers and magazines specialist is the latest familiar name to quit the town centre.

Other noticeable King Street departures include Marks and Spencer, which closed in 2014, and menswear chain Burton, which left in 2019.

Department store Debenhams, in Waterloo Square, has shut permanently following the coronavirus lockdown.

WH Smith, in King Street, South Shields, is due to close in October.

Regular WH Smith customer Michael Reed said its closure “would be a tragedy for the town as a whole”.

Solicitor Mr Reed, who enjoys walking into town with his family to visit the store, said: “WH Smith to me is not only still a great asset to the town but is a reminder of the town centre we all used to enjoy and must all hope we can one day see return.

"The glory days of WH Smiths, Woolworths, and T&G Allan all within a few yards of each other is something I am sure that my children and many others in the town would love to have experienced.

"It would be wonderful if we could provide our children with a town centre which they will reminisce about in 20 or 30 years time, with pride and pleasure, as people of my age and older do.”

Flashback to how the store looked in July 1979.

WH Smith began reviewing its nationwide operations following the pandemic and admitted that a “proposed restructure” to save around £19m could lead to around 1,500 redundancies.

Chief executive Carl Cowling this month said business continued “to be adversely affected by low levels of footfall”, adding: "We now need to take further action to reduce costs across our businesses.”

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