Kingfisher to axe 1,200 Norweb jobs

Kingfisher yesterday announced 1,200 job losses at the Norweb electrical retail chain it acquired in November in a move that will close 113 stores, writes Nigel Cope. The redundancy figure is half the number of staff employed at the Norweb chain which Kingfisher is integrating with its Comet format.

Some 28 Norweb stores will close as well as 26 Comet outlets. All of the 57 Norweb high street stores will also close in March. Following the integration, the number of Comet branches will rise from 225 to 250. Commenting on the job losses, which were foreshadowed at the time of the pounds 29m deal, Comet's chief executive, Eddie Styring, said: "When job losses are unavoidable, we will work to minimise the effect through retraining, job sharing and job search programmes."

Separately, WH Smith is closing its 29 Playhouse video retailing stores with the loss of up to 160 jobs. The shops, mostly in the South-east, will trade for several months until their leases are sold. Peter Bamford, managing director of WH Smith retail, said the decision was a result of the group's policy to concentrate on core businesses.