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Which Suffolk businesses have let staff go because of the coronavirus pandemic?

PUBLISHED: 16:39 31 August 2020 | UPDATED: 13:46 01 September 2020

Debenhams are making job cuts across their Ipswich, Colchester and Bury St Edmunds stores.  Picture: DAVID VINCENT, NEIL PERRY, SARAH LUCY BROWN

Debenhams are making job cuts across their Ipswich, Colchester and Bury St Edmunds stores. Picture: DAVID VINCENT, NEIL PERRY, SARAH LUCY BROWN

DAVID VINCENT, NEIL PERRY, SARAH LUCY BROWN

The furlough scheme was introduced by the Government on March 20 in a bid to protect jobs. Then, three days later, the country went into lockdown.

M&Co in Newmarket High Street, which is earmarked for closure  Picture: GOOGLEMAPSM&Co in Newmarket High Street, which is earmarked for closure Picture: GOOGLEMAPS

Under the scheme, people who were unable to work because of the pandemic were at first paid 80% of their wages by the government, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.

Since July, these furloughed employees have been able to go back to work part-time.

In September, employers will have to pay 10% of furloughed employees’ salaries – rising to 20% by October.

By the end of September the scheme will have been phased out entirely.

The Rampant Horse, Coddenham Road, Needham Market, has closed due to the coronavirus pandemic Picture: ANDREW PARTRIDGEThe Rampant Horse, Coddenham Road, Needham Market, has closed due to the coronavirus pandemic Picture: ANDREW PARTRIDGE

The scheme has been widely praised for preventing mass unemployment as a result of Covid-19.

Nevertheless, many people in Suffolk have lost their jobs.

So, which businesses in the region have been forced to cut jobs and why?

The Pizza Express restaurant in Sudbury is earmarked for closure  Picture: ARCHANT/PA IMAGESThe Pizza Express restaurant in Sudbury is earmarked for closure Picture: ARCHANT/PA IMAGES

Retail

Debenhams – Ipswich, Colchester and Bury St Edmunds

There have been two rounds of job cuts at Debenhams.

The company, which is in administration, first made 40 staff redundant in Ipswich and Colchester back in June.

Then, in August, the company is alleged to have made almost 70 more staff redundant across stores in Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich and Colchester.

All of the redundancies were alleged to have been made via conference call.

M & Co – Newmarket

The national clothing retailer closed one Suffolk store as part of a major restructuring plan.

M & Co closed its store on Newmarket High Street with the loss of nine jobs.

Nationally the company said it was shedding 380 jobs as part of a major restructuring plan aimed at securing its long-term future.

Winch & Blatt – Sudbury

One of Sudbury’s oldest businesses is leaving the high street with 46 job losses due to increased costs and the economic inpact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Family-run Winch & Blatch will close three of its four town centre stores in December, but its homeware outlet at 40 King Street has been taken on by Townrow Department Stores, which is retaining the six members of staff.

Winch & Blatch, which can trace its origins back to a drapery business in the 1850s, had been trying to sell its menswear store in Market Hill and Fashion Gallery in King Street for more than a year in order to consolidate the business.

Travel

Fred. Olsen – Ipswich

In August Fred. Olsen made a third of its head-office staff redundant, less than a month after purchasing two new cruise ships.

The Ipswich-based cruise line axed around 70 posts as part of a restructure due to Covid-19.

Towards the end of June, the cruise line employed “around 220” staff at its head office but a spokeswoman confirmed the number was closer to 150.

However, the firm said the acquisition of the cruise ships and the restructuring of the firm were not related.

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easyJet – Stansted

The budget airline has confirmed it will close its Stansted base along with its bases in Southend and Newcastle.

Around 670 pilots and crew work at the three bases that are going to be closed.

EasyJet said that by consulting with Unite, 93% of the cabin crew who were at risk of compulsory redundancy chose an enhanced voluntary redundancy instead.

SWM Motors – Brandon

SWM Motors in Brandon called in McTear Williams & Wood as liquidators on May 19, making the positions of two directors and eight other people redundant.

Appointed liquidator Hayley Watson said: “The directors state that the entire reason for the closure of the business was the Covid-19 outbreak which resulted in a six month extension for MOT’s for vehicles with a resultant loss of 40% of revenue making the business untenable.”

Hospitality

The Kings Head (Low House) – Laxfield

Five out of eight jobs at the Kings Head in the Suffolk village of Laxfield could be lost, it is feared.

When lockdown was announced in March, the eight-strong workforce at The Low House, near Eye, was put on furlough.

Three were brought back after restrictions were lifted in July but pub owners fear that five more jobs – one full-time – will be lost as a result of the crisis.

Cafe Rouge – Bury St Edmunds

Cafe Rouge, Bury St Edmunds, was among 91 sites owned by the Casual Dining Group which closed due to the company going into administration.

Nearly 2,000 jobs were lost because of the closures.

The board said that entering administration was in the best interests of stakeholders during the “extreme operating environment”.

Pizza Express – Sudbury and Ipswich

The national chain’s outlets in Ipswich’s Lloyds Avenue and Sudbury will not be reopening their doors – alongside another 71 restaurants across the country, as the company cuts 1,100 jobs.

The firm, which currently has around 454 restaurants, said it had finalised a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), despite the majority of its stores being profitable before lockdown.

It has, however, seen earnings decline across its estate for the past three years.

The Rampant Horse – Needham Market

The Rampant Horse in Needham Market was put up for sale following the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic with the loss of seven jobs.

Owners Calvors Brewery had planned to reopen the pub but said it “hung on as long as they could” and were concerned about how they could make it viable.

They said it had been a difficult decision as it included making seven redundancies.


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