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Argos has opened a concession at Sainsbury’s Pontlanfraith to replace its closed store in Blackwood town centre.
The retailer, which is owned by Sainsbury’s, confirmed the closure of its High Street store in November last year. It closed at the start of the first lockdown in March 2020 and did not reopen.
Markham boxer Kody Davies had the honour of opening the new store within a store alongside staff members who transferred over – including manager Deb Duggan.
Mrs Duggan, who had worked at the Argos in Blackwood for 25 years, said there had been no job losses with some staff redeployed to work in the supermarket.
At the time of the closure announcement in February last year, Blackwood independent councillor Kevin Etheridge said he had contacted Sainsbury’s over fears the store could close.
In correspondence with the firm, he explained he had been contacted by elderly residents who used the branch and do not have internet access to items online.
Cllr Etheridge described the confirmation as a “very sad day for staff and shoppers”.
Argos is a much-loved British brand – a staple of town centres up and down the country. But consumer habits change. Argos, like other retailers face hard competition from internet-only firms like Amazon, who do not have the overhead cost of physical shops.
Being owned by a supermarket gives Argos an opportunity to close its high street shops but still retain a physical presence for same-day collection of online orders and a place for customers to go to browse and buy items (albeit on a screen and not from a laminated catalogue).
With a Sainsbury’s store already operating over Caerphilly Mountain in Thornhill, Sainsbury’s has also confirmed the closure of its Caerphilly branch. Why pay for multiple buildings when you can consolidate your offering in single premises with high footfall?
The closure of Argos stores in Blackwood and Caerphilly will be seen as a blow to the traditional high street, but businesses have to react to changing times to keep people employed and to survive.
What we need to do now is to redefine our town centres. Are they purely a place for commerce or something else?
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