The future of 27,000 Woolworths’ employees were hanging in the balance today after administrators feared all stores would close by January unless a buyer was found.
Deloitte said all 807 stores would close by 5 January, with closures starting on 27 December, if a last-minute buyer for the 99-year-old high street retailer could not be found.
Although the professional services firm was still in talks about the sale of the retail business, time is running out to agree a deal to keep Woolies open and secure thousands of jobs.
According to Reuters news agency, Neville Kahn, joint administrator, said 200 stores would close on 27 December, followed by a further 200 stores on 30 December, 2 January and 5 January respectively. The move would make 22,000 permanent and 5,000 temporary staff redundant – signaling the first big name business in the UK to fail since the financial crisis began.
The jobs cull would push the total number out of work nearer to the two million mark. The latest unemployment figures out yesterday revealed that 1.8 million people are now out of work – the highest figure in nearly a decade.
Woolworths Group Plc’s retail business, which sold an eclectic mix of homewares, snacks, clothes and DVDs, collapsed into administration, along with its Entertainment UK wholesale distribution business, on 27 November 2008.
A closing down sale began at the retailer earlier this month. According to Deloitte, there were still 200,000 copies of X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke’s version of Hallelujah on sale.
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