Staff at a department store were stunned into silence and tears after management set off the fire alarm to gather them all in one place – and sack them.
Senior managers from 188-year-old Robb’s department store in Hexham, Northumberland opted to tell employees that the store would be closing down by using the fire alarm to clear the building of customers and gather all 140 members of staff into the car park.
They were then read a statement from administrators Kroll, appointed by the store’s owners Owen Owen in March, that the store will close on 12 May unless a buyer is found.
Hexham’s MP Peter Atkinson told the local newspaper Hexham Courant: “It should have been handled much better than this. These are very loyal people who, in some cases, have worked for Robb’s for many years.
“To be taken into a car park and told in this manner is disgraceful – it is a brutal and brutish way to treat people.”
One member of staff said: “Nobody can believe it. People are devastated, and they feel very let down.”
Many shop-floor employees fear they won’t be able to find new jobs in Hexham, and say they cannot afford the extra train fare to work in nearby Newcastle.
One told the Hexham Courant: “There are very few opportunities in the town generally. An on the type of money we earn, by the time you pay your train fare to Newcastle, you can’t afford to pay your rent.”