392 jobs go as B&Q and HMV shops shut

Almost 400 job losses were confirmed in two of the country’s largest retailers, HMV and B&Q, yesterday.

In spite of potential buyers being linked with a takeover of the HMV’s ailing business here and in Britain, confirmation emerged yesterday that the 300 Irish staff were to lose their jobs.

Those workers had been on “temporary lay-off” ever since HMV’s doors closed on Jan 16. It had been hoped they could be re-instated if a new buyer was found. However, by email yesterday morning they were informed no buyer had been found and their lay-off was being made permanent.

They are expected to only receive statutory redundancy of two weeks’ pay per year of service plus one week.

The receiver appointed to the entertainment store last month, David Carson of Deloitte, confirmed the 16 stores would not re-open. A statement issued on his behalf said that, since his appointment, he had conducted an assessment of the viability of the company and had actively sought a sale.

“The marketplace is very difficult given competition from web-based retailers and digital downloads, compounded by a number of other factors, including high levels of rent,” the statement read. “All stores were loss making and it was not possible to attract a purchaser.”

A spokesman for the receiver also confirmed that any outstanding pre-paid gift vouchers for HMV would not be honoured.

When news broke, social media sites were flooded with comments from people who had either worked or been regular shoppers at the popular chain.

One tweet came from staff at the HMV outlet in the Crescent Shopping Centre in Limerick which last month staged a sit-in over fears they would not receive their entitlements. It read “HMV Crescent It’s official. HMV Ireland has closed it’s doors for good. Thank you for all your support and custom over the years”.

Last week HMV’s administrators in Britain confirmed that it would be closing 66 of its 220 stores there over the next two months with the loss of almost 1,000 jobs. However, other stores in Britain are still open and are expected to continue trading into the future.

Meanwhile, 92 staff are to lose their jobs at B&Q stores in Athlone and Waterford as part of a survival plan.

The Commercial Court was told B&Q had received expressions of interest from four investors along with its parent company, Kingfisher.

B&Q owes €17.2m to Kingfisher and employs 190 full-time and 500 part-time staff in Ireland.

Mandate trade union which represents a number of workers at the home improvement giant, said the closure of the two stores was “beyond contempt”.

“Coming off the back of a refusal by the company to meet with the workers’ representatives in order to address the concerns of their own loyal workforce, this confirms our suspicions that the company is using the examinership process as a way to drive down costs at the expense of their own staff,” said Gerry Light, Mandate’s assistant general secretary.

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