More than 100 jobs at one of Blackpool's most distinctive buildings are at risk as retailer B&M looks set to close its warehouse in the resort.
Union chiefs are battling to save the jobs of 128 people who they say were told the low-cost chain plans to shut the warehouse and distribution centre based in the former Wellington Bomber factory at Squires Gate.
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The firm told workers days before Christmas that the centre will close and work be transferred to Merseyside.
B&M has a long time connection to the Fylde coast, having been founded by Malcolm Billington as Billington & Mayman and opening its first shop in Cleveleys in 1978.
It has had the warehousing at Squires Gate for decades, but following its acquisition by the Arora brothers, the Blackpool operation was scaled down to an “overflow warehouse”in 2010.
At the time the firm said it would not quit Blackpool entirely. Simon Arora, said: “We envisage having a continued presence at Squires Gate for the foreseeable future, given the number of stores on the Fylde coast that are best served by our facility here.”
Now the shopworkers union says staff were told it was to shut due to “unsustainable costs”, with a consultancy period ending on January 30.
Staff from the centre said at that point they will either take redundancy or serve their notice period.
Nick Gerrard, Usdaw area organiser said: “This was clearly a devastating announcement for staff, particularly in the run-up to Christmas.
“Blackpool was B&M’s first distribution centre, so there are many long-serving and loyal staff impacted.
“Usdaw is now in the middle of consultation talks, which will run for at least 45 days, where we are evaluating the business case and seeking the best possible outcome for our members.
"In the meantime we are providing Usdaw members with the support, advice and representation they need at this difficult time.”
B&M declined to comment.
A brief history of B&M
B&M began mainly as a grocery business but after being bought by the Simon and Bobby Arora in 2004 diversified into a range of household products toys and toiletries imported or bought clearance from manufacturers.
The brothers had founded their own retail business in 1995 supplying retail chains with cheap homewares sourced from Asia where their family originated.
They grew the business rapidly and now have 600 stores with 28,000 staff.
In the 2019 Time Rich List, released in May, the Sale-based brothers were named as the third richest family in the North West worth £2.26bn.