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Jobs at risk for staff ahead of department store closure, despite vow

PUBLISHED: 14:43 05 April 2019 | UPDATED: 16:16 05 April 2019

Staff at the closing Beales department store in Lowestoft now face a redundancy consultation. 
Picture: Greta Levy

Staff at the closing Beales department store in Lowestoft now face a redundancy consultation. Picture: Greta Levy

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Staff at a closing department store will be given the chance to apply for roles in other branches or be made redundant - despite being told no jobs would be lost.

Staff at the closing Beales department store in Lowestoft now face a redundancy consultation. 
Picture: Mark BoggisStaff at the closing Beales department store in Lowestoft now face a redundancy consultation. Picture: Mark Boggis

Workers at Beales, in Lowestoft, were called to a meeting this morning (April 5) and told they would be subject to a redundancy consultation period.

In January, the company announced their London Road North store would shut in light of an agreement which allows the current landlord to redevelop the site. It is due to close on April 21.

Staff were informed jobs would be made available at the nearby Palmers shop, which became part of the Beales group in November.

Following news of the closure, Beales chief executive Tony Brown said the deal was the best way to cement the survival of the two stores and jobs would be safe.

But employees now feel aggrieved that there is no guarantee of a move to the Palmers store and are anxious about the prospect of redundancy.

One member of staff, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We originally had a letter to say all jobs would be safe and the conditions of our employment would stay the same.

“We thought we’d be moving to what the company call ‘Lowestoft two’, which is the Palmers down the road. Since then we’ve been working so hard taking stock down to Palmer’s, and then on Wednesday we were told about the meeting.”

A fellow worker added: “It was just a statement read straight from a script. They couldn’t even send anyone from HR along, so no one was there to answer questions.

“Deep down we knew we couldn’t all fit in Palmers, but we would have preferred it if they said straight away there could be redundancies.

“Some people have worked at the store for 30 years; they’ve been loyal to Beales but Beales has not been loyal to them.”

Mr Brown confirmed the company had entered into a redundancy consultation with staff.

“We have gone into a consultation period and notified everyone of the risk of redundancy,” said Brown. “This is not the notice of redundancy itself and we will abide by the consultation process as we are obliged to do.

“I can’t say at this point how many opportunities there are for staff. It was never my intention for this to happen but it is taken out of our hands when the landlord wants to redevelop the site.”

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