Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Woolworths employees in West Somerset fear for their jobs

DOZENS of shopworkers in Minehead were this week left to fear for their jobs as troubled retailer Woolworths fought to avoid going bust.
Woolworths, which has a branch in The Avenue, Minehead, is said to have been offered for sale for £1 to restructuring firm Hilco.
But it has debts of £385 million and has been holding emergency talks with its two main banks.
Analysts said Woolworths was likely to go into administration with the loss of 20,000 of its 30,000 jobs unless some kind of a rescue deal could be agreed.
Minehead is just one of 840 stores in the Woolworths UK portfolio, which also includes a distribution business and a DVD publishing business.
The company’s shares have fallen by 92 per cent in the past year as it suffered record first-half pre-tax losses of £90.8 million in September and scrapped its dividend to shareholders.
Only in August, Woolworths rejected a £50 million takeover bid for its stores from a group headed by the founder of the Iceland frozen food chain, Malcolm Walker.
Woolworths was due to celebrate its trading centenary in 2009.
A statement issued by Woolworths said: “The board can confirm it is in preliminary discussions regarding a possible offer for the retail business. There can be no assurance that any offer will be forthcoming.”

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