Job fears as major firm put up for sale

CONCERNS were last night raised for workers at a long-established family firm after it emerged the business had been put on the market with a �5.5million price tag.

Founded more than 30 years ago, offers above the �5.5m are being sought for Marlows Home and Garden Centre in Bury St Edmunds.

The sale includes both the business, which has an annual turnover of �4.5m, stock, moveable plant and machinery, as well as the freehold of the land.

It has been put up for sale by the owners, Underwood Holdings Limited.

Philip Underwood, of Underwood Holdings and joint chairman of Marlows, said: “We remain committed to doing what is right for the business which will continue to grow to the benefit of our loyal customers and in the meantime for all it is business as usual.”

Marlows’ staff were only informed about the sale of the business yesterday, following an approach to the firm by the EADT.

The company last night refused to confirm how many jobs might be affected if the firm is sold.

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News of the sale last night triggered concerns among some in the town.

Bob Cockle, chairman of Bury Town Council, said: “I am shocked to hear that. It (Marlows) has been up there for a very long time.

“I am very concerned, especially with the budget – people’s jobs are going to be all the more important now. Some of the staff at Marlows have been there for as long as I can remember. Some of them have been with the company for donkey’s years.”

Ward councillor for the area Pat Warby, who is also the deputy mayor of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said she had not been aware of the sale, adding: “It would be a blow if it was not sold as a going concern.”

Marlows Home and Garden Centre started out as a small store selling DIY products but steadily grew to include a lighting area as well as tools and plumbing sections.

The garden centre was added about 25 years ago and in 2006 the site underwent a major revamp.

laurence.cawley@eadt.co.uk

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