Claims of more job losses at Debenhams stores in Ipswich and Colchester
- Credit: DAVID VINCENT, NEIL PERRY, SARAH LUCY BROWN
Debenhams stores across Suffolk and north Essex made almost 70 people redundant via conference call this week, it is alleged.
Earlier this week it was reported that the Bury St Edmunds store allegedly made 20 staff redundant via conference call on Tuesday.
Now, it is alleged that jobs were axed in a similar way at the Ipswich and Colchester stores.
On Tuesday morning, it is alleged that 33 staff at the Ipswich store and 15 staff at the Colchester branch were made redundant in separate conference calls.
Debenhams refused to confirm or deny the figures, saying they had made 2,500 people redundant across the UK but had not broken down the numbers on a store-by-store basis.
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This latest set of cuts come two months after the firm made 40 staff redundant across their Ipswich and Colchester stores.
An now-former employee at the Colchester store – who asked not to be named – said: “There were about 15 of us on the call on Tuesday.
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“It was at 11am. Basically, we just got told that they were not taking as much money as they wanted to and they were gonna have to let us go.”
The ex-employee, who had worked at the store for over a decade, received a text message on Monday telling her to prepare for a conference call.
“Part of me was hoping they were going to say we were staying on furlough or they wanted us to go back,” she said. “But obviously there’s always a third element in your head.
“You know that some people have been made redundant already. I think I knew what was coming.”
The former employee said those on the call were told they would be offered temporary positions over the Christmas period.
Debenhams was already struggling before lockdown, and went into administration back in April.
A spokesman for Debenhams’ administrators said: “In normal circumstances an employer proposing to make redundancies would embark on a period of consultation with its employees. But this is rarely possible in insolvency where the options available are limited and the administrators must consider their own duty to creditors.
“Those affected by redundancy will take no particular comfort from this, but the steps taken are in response to an unpredictable and challenging trading environment and aim to ensure the future viability of the business, while also meeting wider statutory obligations.”
A Debenhams spokesman said: “We have successfully reopened 124 stores, post-lockdown, and these are currently trading ahead of management expectations. At the same time, the trading environment is clearly a long way from returning to normal and we have to ensure our store costs are aligned with realistic expectations.
“Those colleagues affected by redundancy have been informed and we are very grateful to them for their service and commitment to Debenhams. Such difficult decisions are being taken by many retailers right now, and we will continue to take all necessary steps to give Debenhams every chance of a viable future.”