The immediate future of 850 employees at mail order firm Empire Stores is uncertain. High street retailer Littlewoods has announced its intention to purchase Empire’s debtor book.
The move follows an initial announcement by Empire Stores’ French-owned parent company, Redcats UK, earlier this month, that it intends to close the business by the end of 2008, affecting sites in Bradford and Wakefield.
Littlewoods said it would acquire the Empire Stores brand name and customer database, subject to regulatory clearance, but would not take on the 850 workers at the end of the current season’s catalogue, anticipated to be in July 2008.
Val Pugh, national officer at union Usdaw, said: “The agency home shopping sector has been in decline for a number of years and has suffered a poor Christmas trading period, in line with the high street. Nevertheless, the announcement is bitterly disappointing.”