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Council's potential retail partner ASCO closes Warrington store

John Freeman
(Updated 22/4/10, quote from Anne Chapman addded): ASCO Supermarket Warrington, launched to great fanfare just five months ago and owned by the company approached by Lancaster City Council to take over the Lancaster Market building, has closed.

The Warrington Guardian reports the closure follows the issuing of a winding up order by a supplier claiming £25,620 for signage that has not been paid for.

ASCO took over a former Woolworths site in the town, but as we reported previously, was beset with problems, including making staff redundant within weeks of opening.

The winding up order, made by Evolve Group, based in Haydock, whose petition is due to be heard in the commercial court in Liverpool in May, would seem to be the final curtain for the supermarket.

Opponents of the City Council scheme to replace Lancaster Market with a single retailer - revealed to be ASCO, the company name at first kept secret - had warned of the company's unsteady history.

A huge campaign against the proposal, led by Market traders, saw the plans thrown out by Full Council earlier this month.

However, a huge number of councillors - including Conservatives and the Liberal Democrat leader of the Council, Stuart Langhorn, who is also Lancaster and Fleetwood's prospective candidate in the General Election - voted against the Green Party proposed rescue plan for the Market.

Had the Cabinet plan to partner with ASCO gone ahead unopposed, it appears the City Council would have been partnered with a company that is now in deep financial trouble, as many predicted.

"This is what we all feared would happen and I am not in the least surprised," said Green councillor Anne Chapman, commenting on the closure of ASCO's Warrington branch. "This confirms my view that it was right for the council to back the Green group motion to regenerate and improve the market.

"In the medium term, this is the best was to reduce the defecit and to keep people in work."

A spokesman for Asco said of the Warrington closure: ‘Sadly that is the case at the moment. It is a temporary situation only."