Jul 1 2011 by Denis Brown, Perthshire Advertiser Friday
AFTER being granted a reprieve only two weeks ago, 20 employees at Haldanes supermarket in Crieff are now jobless – again.
At 1.30pm on Wednesday, the store’s manager advised staff they had all been made redundant and that the supermarket was closing immediately, writes Denis Brown.
It was deja vu for the 20 workers – many who are parents with families – already made unemployed after the store shut down, seemingly for good, on Tuesday, June 8.
However, in a remarkable turn of events, the supermarket reopened on Friday, June 17 under control of Sheffield-based administrators, P&A Partnership, with all 20 staff re-employed.
But workers only received one week of four weeks wages due and have not been paid for shifts since the supermarket reopened on a reduced hours basis selling remainder stock from other stores.
“We’re all completely gutted,” one of the staff members told the PA.
“For me and maybe three other staff it’s not too big a deal as we’re young and going off to uni in September.
“But most staff are older, with families to support and have worked there for years and now they have to try and find new jobs, which will be tough.”
He said employees had anxiously been hoping a new operator would take over and retain staff.
“In all honesty I would have preferred to know that was it two weeks ago,” he said.
Earlier this month, Haldanes became a retail casualty after its boss Arthur Harris announced administrators were being called in and the chain was closing most stores with the loss of hundreds of jobs.
The group had 13 stores in Scotland and a total of 26 UK-wide, employing 600 staff.
Many Crieff employees were former Co-op staff adopted when Haldanes took over in December 2009.
Yesterday, P&A Partnership’s Brendan Guilfoyle and Chris White – joint administrators of Haldanes Stores Ltd and Ruston Retail Ltd – officially announced the closure of the Crieff store and two in England.
Declaring it was a difficult time for retailers and quoting last month’s UK-wide retail figures showing a 1.4% drop in sales and volume, Mr Guilfoyle said his priority was to help staff made redundant.
Ochil and South Perthshire MP Gordon Banks, who has a Crieff constituency office in the Haldanes-adjacent Penny Lane shopping arcade, described the latest development as a “tragedy” for staff and Crieff.
Yesterday, administrators told Mr Banks they had been unable to negotiate a week by week rental arrangement with the supermarket space’s landlord – whose identity remains unclear.
“And without that agreement, case law prevents them keeping the supermarket open,” he said.
“So it doesn’t look good for the future of the Crieff store and the administrators say they will be handing the keys back to the landlord.”
Mr Banks said after writing to administrators this week, he received a “cautiously positive” response on Wednesday – the day the store closed.
“They said they were looking at the viability of the three remaining stores and that staff were prominent in their minds,” he said.
“And then later the same day I heard they’d closed Crieff’s supermarket.”
Mr Guilfoyle said Haldane Retail Group Ltd, UGO Stores Ltd, Haldanes Express Ltd and Bakery Products Ltd were unaffected by the administration and trading as usual.