THE Chain store Debenhams has been struggling to avoid administration for some time. In April, Debenhams fell into administration for the second time in a year as COVID-19 hit home.
Stores have remained open post COVID-19 but staff at many of the stores remained furloughed.
This week the store contacted thousands of employees and told them that their services were no longer required.
Some received the news face to face from store managers while others received conference calls with only a couple of days notice to say that their contracts were terminated.
Now Unions have become involved and have challenged the swift action on the part of Debenhams, which may result in legal action on behalf of employees. By law, mass redundancies have to be subject to a consultation period. Usdaw said it was preparing a legal challenge on behalf of members affected.Some employees have taken to social media to air their views.
It is understood that staff at the Llanelli store at Trostre have been laid off leaving a skeleton staff group to run the store. The company would have axed almost a third of its workforce since May 2020.
The retail industry was in trouble pre COVID-19 and the closure of stores for a long period would have impacted on sales. Shopping centres and town centres are just emerging from lockdown and hoping that shoppers will return and spend.
Town’s like Llanelli are trying to adapt by pedestrianising areas and offering cafes and bars the opportunity to attract shoppers and diners who might like to dine alfresco.
A UK wide scheme to encourage people to dine out by offering vouchers has started. There have been critics of this gesture with some asking why the government didn’t offer healthy food options instead of some of the fast food outlets, which in some people’s view contribute to the countries growing health problems including obesity and diabetes.
Wales is officially in recession for first time in 11 years due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The UK economy shrank 20.4% between April and June compared with the first three months of the year.
As more and more people have become used to shopping online it may be some time before retail outlets see the same amount of footfall.