UPDATE: Shutters down at resort shops - but they are set to reopen under new ownership

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Six Co-op shops across the Fylde coast are being reopened as McColl's stores.

The shutters were down at the Co-op's branch in Central Drive, Blackpool, earlier this week, while five other stores in the area have also been affected by a larger national buyout by the rival retail company.

They are the branches in Coronation Street, Harrowside, and Preston Old Road, all Blackpool, Chain Lane in Staining, and Harbour Lane in Warton.

The Co-op said it was selling the stores, which are 1,700 sq ft on average, because they are too small to stock all of its own brand products, which it said have been key to driving up sales.

Staff have been told they will keep their jobs, with the same terms and conditions, it added.

A spokeswoman said: "An important consideration for us was that colleagues would have continued employment as a result of this sale, and this agreement ensures that colleagues will continue in their jobs and have their terms and conditions maintained post-sale."

The shops were sold among a raft of 300 in a £117m deal announced last year, with 3,808 Co-op staff transferred to McColl's.

The Co-op said the move tied in with plans to grow the total number of Co-op members to a million by 2018, while pushing up the total sales from members to 50 per cent.

McColl’s, which has more than 930 convenience stores, said the cash deal would be partly funded by raising around £13.1m in shares to new and existing investors.

Chief executive Jonathan Miller added: "These stores are profitable, well invested, and the perfect size for our operating model.”

Shop workers’ union USDAW said it was monitoring the move. John Gorle, Usdaw National Officer said: “We welcome the Co-op’s assurances that terms and conditions of employment will be safeguarded and staff will continue to have secure jobs with a future.”

The Gazette has asked McColl's when it expects its new stores to be up and running. This story will be updated with a response.

Update at 11.31am, Thursday, May 11:

A spokeswoman for McColl's said the Preston Old Road branch reopened on March 22, and the Central Drive store reopened yesterday.

She said the Chain Lane shop in Staining will reopen on Wednesday, the Harrowside shop will reopen on July 6, and the Harbour Lane store in Warton will reopen on July 11.

There are no plans to change opening hours, she said, while there are no plans to close the McColl's store already in Warton, on Lytham Road.

She added: "We are looking forward to operating our new stores in Blackpool and the surrounding area.

"We would like to reassure customers that McColl’s will continue to provide high quality products and great service.

"We pride ourselves on our community focus and will continue to offer quality fresh fruit, vegetables, milk, chilled foods and other daily essentials, providing customers with excellent value for money.”