Freshwater's The Co-operative store is to close later this year and a Tesco.

It is the West Wight's biggest supermarket and is expected to change hands in the autumn.

In statement on social media tonight (Sunday), The Co-operative says staff will be given the chance to swap to Tesco instead under a TUPE agreement.

The firm said: "Plans are being progressed for our store to be transferred to Tesco Stores Ltd.

"Whilst the sale remains subject to a number conditions being met, it’s expected to complete in autumn 2021.

"Whilst Freshwater is a successful store, it’s our largest store and the only one that fulfils the supermarket mission alongside our other 200 convenience stores.

"The sale will allow Southern Co-op to focus on its convenience stores including the store in Avenue Road, Freshwater, which will continue to serve the local community.

"There are no plans to sell or close Southern Co-op’s other retail stores or funeral homes on the Isle of Wight and all of our colleagues have the opportunity to transfer to Tesco under the Transfer Undertaking for the Protection of Employment Regulations (TUPE).

"Our colleagues will also be working with our community partners, local suppliers and other key stakeholders to ensure the transition is smooth and to reduce any impacts wherever possible."

Mark Smith, Chief Executive, said: “We would like to emphasise that the decision to exit a site is never taken lightly and in no ways reflects negatively on the hard work and commitment of our colleagues, especially throughout the pandemic.

“As a regional business, we remain committed to the Isle of Wight economy and communities and will continue to serve the island through our other food stores, funeral homes and our partnerships with community organisations and food and drink producers.”

The Co-operative store, part of the Southern Co-op group, opened in 2015, replacing a smaller shop on Hooke Hill in the town.

The Afton Road store created new jobs and stocked Isle of Wight produce on its shelves.

During the 2020 Covid-19 lockdowns it supported older Islanders with a telephone home shopping service.

More than 1,000 deliveries were made to those unable to leave their homes because of the pandemic.

There was dismay in October, when the telephone service ended and the shop returned to it usual delivery service.

The Freshwater Co-operative also incorporates a Post Office.

In November, the County Press reported on plans to close The Co-operative in Newport's Pyle Street (run by a separate Co-op firm).

The shop shut its doors in February, with the loss of jobs and the town's post office.

The building remains empty.

Tesco already has a flagship store at Westridge, near Ryde and an express store in Wootton. It also has branches in Lake and Ventnor.

Freshwater would be Tesco's second biggest store on the Island.

Tesco recently reopened its Wootton branch after a month-long refit.

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