Major blow for Birkenhead as WHSmith plans to shut store

Birkenhead town centre has been dealt another devastating blow after it was revealed WHSmith is pulling out next year.

The famous High Street name – which acts as newsagent, stationer and bookstore – confirmed it would be closing its site in the Pyramids shopping centre in July 2021.

It also puts in doubt the future of the town’s Post Office, which has a counter inside the WHSmith branch.

It was revealed yesterday that the struggling High Street retailer planned to close 25 of its stores over the coming months as it reported a £280m annual loss thanks to the impact of the pandemic.

However this will come as little comfort to the Wirral town centre, which over the past few years has witnessed the loss of WH Smith’s neighbouring store, Marks & Spencer, as well as the recent closure of the House of Fraser department store.

A statement issued by WH Smith said: “We can confirm that the WHSmith store in Birkenhead will be closing in July 2021.

“Unfortunately, we are unable to continue to trade viably from this location and the decision has been taken to close the store as a result of the forthcoming lease expiry.

The Pyramids shopping centre in Birkenhead

“We are currently in discussion with Post Office Limited so they have time to find a suitable franchise partner to ensure continuity of Post Office services within the town.

“We are disappointed to be losing our presence in Birkenhead and we would like to thank all our customers for their support and for shopping with us.

“We are also extremely grateful for the commitment of our in store colleagues who we will support with this transition and redeploy to nearby stores, where possible.”

WH Smith fell deeply into the red in the last year as the Covid-19 pandemic forced hundreds of its shops to close, and put the brakes on its travel business.

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“Since March, we have been heavily impacted by the pandemic,” said chief executive Carl Cowling.

Things had started looking up again, but last week England entered a second lockdown, leaving businesses that rely on physical sites in a tricky position.

After the announcement, WH Smith has 558 high street and 243 travel shops open.

A Post Office spokesperson said: “The operator for Birkenhead Post Office has just announced the difficult decision to close their store, where the Post Office is based, in July 2021.

“We know how important a Post Office is to a community and the vacancy will soon be advertised on www.runapostoffice.co.uk.”

Liverpool Echo – Liverpool News