Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Last rites administered for Woolworths jobs

THERE will be no Christmas cheer for staff of Woolworths’ in Minehead as the town’s store is set to close in the next three weeks, according to the company’s administrators.
Deloitte said today that failing a last-minute purchase of the firm, all 807 Woolworths stores around the country will close by January 5.
The first stores will start to close on December 27, with all 30,000 employees eventually losing their jobs.
Neville Kahn, a partner in administrators Deloitte, said some interest had been shown in parts of the business but the administrators were not even close to finding a buyer for the company outright.
Offers to take over the leases of around 300 Woolworths stores had been received from a range of food, clothes and ‘value retailers’, and Deloitte said it would try to ensure those losing their jobs were put in touch with the potential new employers.
Mr Khan said staff would be paid until the end of the month, after which they would need to apply for statutory redundancy.
He said: “It is a very difficult situation for people, particularly the employees, and we are trying to deal with it in as sensible a way as possible.”
Last week, Woolworths saw record sales as it began a closing down sale with up to 50 per cent off items - its largest ever sale.
And even larger discounts of more than 60 per cent are being planned in order to shift remaining stock.
The Minehead store will display a countdown in its shop window showing how many days were left before it closed.
Following the closure, some of the Minehead staff will be retained for a few days before their jobs go.
Woolworths went into administration three weeks ago with debts of £385 million.
Millionaire entrepreneur Theo Paphitis, one of the stars of BBC television’s Dragon’s Den series, initially showed an interest in buying the company but quickly pulled out of any deal.

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