An entire team of wine industry workers have been left fearing for their future after a decision was made to pull operations out of Preston.
Direct Wines, the world’s largest mail order wine merchant, has made the decision to close its Averys operation at the Roman Way Industrial Estate in Longridge Road, Ribbleton, in favour of restructuring in the South.
The 17-strong workforce have now all been entered into a 30-day consultation process with management about relocating hundreds of miles away to sites in Bristol and Theale, Berkshire.
Direct Wines has declined to comment on whether those who cannot or will not move will be made redundant.
Workers have told the Evening Post that they were only given a few hours’ notice about changes on Monday and said they are “devastated”.
Glenn Caton, managing director of Direct Wines in the UK, said: “Direct Wines has made the decision to consolidate the Averys of Bristol business to operate out of our Bristol and Theale sites.
“This will allow us to leverage our strengths within the wider business and reinvest in the Averys of Bristol business.
“We have not made any redundancies, but we are currently speaking to 17 members of the Averys team, based in Preston, with regards to relocating their roles within the business at our other UK sites.
“We are dedicated to ensuring that our business is organised in the best way to serve our customers in the UK, and we are invested in growing the Averys business - as the next chapter in the long Averys of Bristol history.
“These changes are no reflection on the excellent levels of customer service that have been provided by the Prestoased team.
“Our Virgin Wines business will continue to operate out of our Preston and Norwich sites and we are committed to supporting the growth of this business in the UK also.”
Including Avery’s staff, Direct Wines employs a total of 66 people at the Preston branch, with 49 under the Virgin Wines branch.
Direct Wines was set up by Tony Laithwaite, after he began importing French wine to the UK in the 1960s.
Today the company sells more than 4.5m cases a year and has a number of wine clubs such as The Sunday Times Wine Club, the British Airways Executive Wine Club and the Wall Street Journal Wine Club among others.
Serving more than 1m customers globally, the company employs more than 1,000 people, with operations in the UK, US, Australia, Switzerland, Germany and Hong Kong, as well as a newly-opened operation in Poland.