ANOTHER big name is leaving Wokingham’s town centre, weeks before the first stores are due to open in Elms Field.
Argos has confirmed that the store in Erftstadt Court will close next month, following in the footsteps of Marks & Spencer and the Post Office. Rumours have been circulating for some time that the store would shut its doors.
But the company said that its sister stores in the Winnersh Sainsbury’s and in Bracknell are unaffected and all staff will be offered a new role at the Argos site or in the supermarket chain.
An Argos spokesperson said, “We can confirm our Wokingham store will be closing in July. All colleagues have been offered the opportunity to redeploy to nearby stores, where customers can continue to shop with us.”
Cllr Andy Croy, leader of Wokingham Labour, was disappointed with the news.
He said: “It is obviously a shame as it reduces choice and competition for shoppers in Wokingham.
“It offers a wide range of goods which is a god-send for folk who do not use the Internet. Wokingham Town is becoming less and less inclusive.”
Cllr Clive Jones, deputy leader of Wokingham’s Liberal Democrat group, said that the decision by Argos showed that the council’s regeneration plans were too ambitious.
“It just reinforces again that this is probably not the right time to all this work on Wokingham’s town centre. The big retailers are attractions to the town.
“Argos are putting more and more smaller stores into Sainsbury’s, the retail environment is changing very, very fast.
“Will we ever be in a situation where Wokingham will have every shop unit filled?”
A number of stores have opened already as part of the council’s new Peach Place development, including Waterstones, GAIL’s Bakery, record store Beyond The Download and gin bar The Leafy Elephant.
Aldi is due to open its doors in Wokingham’s Elms Field next month, and the Premier Inn in the autumn.
Wokingham Borough Council was contacted to comment but was unable to do so before we went to press.