Union calls for urgent meeting with Debenhams' administrators

Retail trade union Usdaw today called for urgent meetings with Debenhams’ administrators, urging them to treat staff with "fairness and dignity".

By David Nowell
Monday, 25th January 2021, 12:42 pm
High streets have been dealt yet another blow
High streets have been dealt yet another blow

The union is also calling on the Government to urgently act to save our high streets

Dave Gill, Usdaw National Officer, said: “It is devastating news for our high streets that Debenhams’ administrators have sold the company brand to an online only retailer.

"Throughout Debenhams’ difficulties the company and then administrators have refused to engage with Usdaw, the staff are being treated appallingly and we don’t believe the law has been complied with in the past.

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“Last summer redundancies were made by conference call, with no meaningful consultation or proper notice period, as required by law. That must not happen again and we urge the administrators to engage with Usdaw, the trade union for Debenhams staff.

"It is crucial that they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. We continue to provide our members with the support, advice and legal representation they need at this very difficult time."

Mr Gill added: “Nearly 180,000 retail job losses and around 20,000 store closures last year were absolutely devastating and lay bare the scale of the challenge the industry faces. Each one of those job losses is a personal tragedy for the individual worker and store closures are scarring our high streets and communities.

“What retail needs is a joined up strategy of unions, employers and government working together to develop a recovery plan. Usdaw has long called for an industrial strategy for retail, as part of our ‘Save our Shops’ campaign, to help a sector that was already struggling before the coronavirus emergency."

Retail expert Dr Gordon Fletcher of the University of Salford Business School said: “As the online fashion retailers begin to buy up the pieces of Debenhams and circle the failed Arcadia group's iconic brands a very clear message is being broadcast.

"Brands are still important. Brands have credibility and reputation.

“Consumers have strong emotional connections with brands. However, the importance of the bricks and mortar traditionally associated with retail brands has now fully waned.

"This is not a new realisation that has only been discovered during the pandemic. However, the current lockdown situation has forced us to cut the final ties between our favourite brands and the physical high street."

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