ARGOS will next month become the latest chain to abandon Swindon town centre when it closes its Wharf Green outlet.

Sainsbury’s, which bought Britain’s favourite catalogue retailer in 2016 in a deal that also saw the supermarket take on Habitat, confirmed the central Swindon store would close by the end of July.

The supermarket giant refused to say how many staff would lose their jobs. A spokeswoman said: “We’re exploring redeployment opportunities for colleagues affected.” Argos outlets at Greenbridge and in the Bridgemead Sainsbury’s will remain open.

The news is the latest blow for Swindon town centre. It follows the agreement of a deal between Topshop owners Arcadia and its creditors this week, which is likely to see the closure of two Canal Walk stores - and the loss of five brands from Swindon, including Burton and Dorothy Perkins.

A spokeswoman for FI Real Estate Management, owners of the Brunel Centre, said: “Swindon has a growing independent retail landscape that we are supporting at The Brunel. We are in the final stages of creating exciting plans for the centre and hope to be unveiling our proposals to the public next month.”

An upbeat Councillor Dale Heenan, Swindon Borough Council’s town centre chief, said Argos stores were closing “all over the place” since the Sainsbury’s takeover: “This is the way of the world when you directly compete with Amazon.

“The owners of the Brunel Centre recognise and understand this change in buying behaviour. They have exciting plans coming forward this summer which will show that the Brunel Centre has a bright future and will be the focus of Swindon town centre.

“We must be more positive about our town because it is not all doom and gloom. The town centre remains busy, often with hundreds of people walking around, whether it’s Wednesday 2pm or Saturday 11am.”

Yesterday, shoppers sat in Wharf Green were less enthusiastic. Sue Bull, 51, said: “I don’t come into the town centre very often. It’s mainly to have my nails done. We’ve got so much out of town now. I live in Highworth and Greenbridge Retail Park is very local for us.” Pal Margaret McShally, 57, concurred: “I don’t come into town very often.”

Craig Anderson, 51, bemoaned town centre nightlife: “With pubs shutting it’s become very bland. There’s no real atmosphere.”