Johnson invests in new Leeds plant

THE UK’s largest dry-cleaning chain said it will close more than a third of its stores this year in a move set to affect hundreds of jobs.

Johnsons Cleaners said it will close more than a third of its stores this year in a move set to impact on hundreds of jobs.

Johnson Service Group plans to close 109 of its 307 Johnson Cleaners branches as it continues to shift away from traditional high street locations towards collection and delivery points within supermarkets.

The company has not disclosed how many jobs will go but, with a typical store employing four people, the planned closures may affect more than 400 jobs. There was no regional breakdown for the planned closures.

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However. Johnson said its £8.2m investment in its new plant in Leeds is on schedule.

When it becomes operational early this year, Johnson believes it will be the UK’s most automated garment processing plant.

Johnson, which also closed more than 100 branches in 2012, said the dry-cleaning business failed to grow sales last year despite several initiatives to reach new customers.

It has established collection and delivery points in office premises with a high concentration of staff and now has a presence within 78 Waitrose stores, with a further 46 locations due to be opened in the early part of this year. The company is also planning to launch an online home collection and delivery service for higher-value or bulky items.

The majority of stores set for closure have leases expiring within the next two years, with renewal not seen as financially viable.