UP to 80 jobs face the axe as a baby store revealed that it will close less than two years after opening.
Baby specialist Kiddicare announced that ten of its 11 branches across the country will shut as it aims to focus on its online business.
The doomed branches include the store in Charles Watts Way, Hedge End, where former electronics retailer Best Buy also shut within two years of opening, with a loss of 120 jobs.
Shoppers with gift cards for the chain are now being warned to spend them quickly before branches shut, as they cannot be used online, returned or refunded.
It is estimated that between 700 and 800 jobs will go nationally, with just the Peterborough store and website staying open.
A spokeswoman for the baby specialist chain refused to confirm how many jobs would be lost in Hedge End, but as previously reported by the Daily Echo, the store created 79 jobs when it opened in April last year.
As well as selling more than 3,500 products for babies and young children, there was an in-store cafe, a children’s play zone, an area for feeding and privacy and an event room used for baby yoga, baby massage and toddler play sessions, as well as antenatal classes and visits from healthcare advisers.
The spokeswoman said that the decision to close the stores had been made as it is “not financially viable” for the business to keep the stores open, and that private consultations were being held with staff.
She was unable to confirm when the store would close.
Kiddicare was sold less than three weeks ago by Morrisons to company turnaround funders Endless LLP for £2m.
In a statement issued by Endless LLP, it confirmed that it had acquired Kiddicare from Morrisons.
It said that the firm recorded sales of circa £80m for the year ending February 2014, adding that Morrisons announced earlier this year that Kiddicare was “non-strategic” and would seek a transfer to new ownership in 2014.
Garry Wilson, managing partner of Endless, said: “Kiddicare has a history as a trusted brand in the children’s market. We will be working hard with management to grow the business over the long-term.”