Shop bosses have been accused of putting “greed before need” amid reports they plan to replace “lifeline” Post Office counters with hot food outlets.
Earlier this year CJ Lang, which operates Spar stores in Scotland, announced it would no longer accommodate postal services in its branches.
It meant five city communities – home to some of the north-east’s most vulnerable residents – would lose their Post Office.
Last month, we revealed the chain was about to shut two of the counters with just a day’s notice, when it admitted the closures were imminent only after an MSP asking for an update.
The Seaton and Torry branches were closed on August 31 – less than 24 hours after the news was announced – despite CJ Lang promising to keep communities and local leaders informed.
Kincorth Post Office shut its doors last month, while Clifton Road and Northfield’s counters will close in October and February respectively.
‘Greedy’ chain ‘ignores’ need for Post Office
Now CJ Lang has again attracted the ire of campaigners amid reports the counters will be replaced by hot food takeaways.
Fiona Campbell, who gathered thousands of signatures in protest against the closure of Seaton Post Office, accused “greedy” bosses of ignoring the needs of residents.
“If it does end up being a hot food outlet it is a case of them putting greed before need,” she said.
“They have tried to say the Post Office isn’t needed any more, but it’s the only one in the area.
“There is a bakery which sells hot food just across the road and plenty of other places nearby so there is no need for another one.
“People in this area rely on the Post Office, especially since the last bank closed. Many of them are simply not able to get into town to post mail or take money out.
“This is affecting the most vulnerable communities in the city. They are being abandoned.”
Firm blames ‘industry-wide pressures’
CJ Lang’s decision to close the counters came despite financial support being offered by Post Office executives to continue offering services, and led to accusations it had “abandoned” residents.
The firm has since remained coy on what it plans to do with the newly-freed space in its branches.
When we asked what will replace Post Office services, bosses only said they had shut the counters due to “industry-wide pressures” and refused to be drawn on their future plans.
“We are constantly reviewing the services within our stores and the impact that Post Office counters have on our overall store operations,” a spokesman said.
“Unfortunately, in some instances it is not viable for us to continue to offer these and they will be replaced with additional services and an increase product range.
“This is representative of the industry-wide pressures on retail outlets as we evolve to keep up with changing consumer habits.”