Which Suffolk companies have let staff go during 2020?

Debenhams in Ipswich

A passerby walks past Debenhams in Ipswich. The chain is closing all its stores putting 12,000 jobs at risk. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Hundreds of thousands of people across the country have lost their jobs this year — including many in Suffolk and Essex — as the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues to be felt.

According to the most recent data from the Office for National Statistics, between August and October 43,000 people in the East of England were made redundant — the highest total recorded in a single quarter for more than a decade.

Many more remain on the furlough scheme. Back in October the scheme was supporting around 104,000 people in the county.

The scheme is due to come to an end by May.

Despite widespread support for the scheme many people have lost their jobs and businesses underlining the terrible pressures the pandemic has placed upon the economy.


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Here are some of the businesses that have been forced to cut jobs and why.

Debenhams at the Arc shopping centre in Bury St Edmunds

Debenhams at the Arc shopping centre in Bury St Edmunds - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Debenhams — Colchester, Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds

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Before the department store chain announced it was closing down there were two rounds of job cuts at Debenhams.

The company first made 40 staff redundant in Ipswich and Colchester back in June.

Then, in August, the company is alleged to have made almost 70 more staff redundant across stores in Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich and Colchester.

All of the redundancies were alleged to have been made via conference call.

On December 1 Debenhams announced it was closing its stores. Nationally, this means all 12,000 of its remaining employees are likely to lose their jobs when the chain's 124 shops cease trading.

M & Co — Newmarket

The national clothing retailer closed one Suffolk store as part of a major restructuring plan.

M & Co closed its store on Newmarket High Street with the loss of nine jobs.

Nationally the company said it was shedding 380 jobs as part of a major restructuring plan aimed at securing its long-term future.

Winch and Blatch in Sudbury Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Winch and Blatch in Sudbury - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Winch & Blatch — Sudbury

One of Sudbury’s oldest businesses is leaving the high street with 46 job losses due to increased costs and the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Family-run Winch & Blatch will close three of its four town centre stores in December, but its homeware outlet at 40 King Street has been taken on by Townrow Department Stores, which is retaining the six members of staff.

Winch & Blatch, which can trace its origins back to a drapery business in the 1850s, had been trying to sell its menswear store in Market Hill and Fashion Gallery in King Street for more than a year in order to consolidate the business.

Fred. Olsen — Ipswich 

In August Fred. Olsen made a third of its head-office staff redundant, less than a month after purchasing two new cruise ships.

The Ipswich-based cruise line axed around 70 posts as part of a restructure due to Covid-19.

Towards the end of June, the cruise line employed “around 220” staff at its head office but a spokeswoman confirmed the number was closer to 150.

However, the firm said the acquisition of the cruise ships and the restructuring of the firm were not related.

EasyJet — Stansted

The budget airline has confirmed it will close its Stansted base along with its bases in Southend and Newcastle.

Around 670 pilots and crew work at the three bases that are going to be closed.

EasyJet said that by consulting with Unite, 93% of the cabin crew who were at risk of compulsory redundancy chose an enhanced voluntary redundancy instead.

London Stansted’s terminal building Picture: STANSTED AIRPORT

London Stansted’s terminal building - Credit: STANSTED AIRPORT

Manchester Airport Group — Stansted

In October Manchester Airport Group (MAG), which owns Stansted, proposed cutting 376 jobs at the airport as part of nearly 900 planned redundancies across the group. Most of the job losses came from roles within the terminal building.

It came after a 90% reduction in demand for travel amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cafe Rouge — Bury St Edmunds

Cafe Rouge, Bury St Edmunds, was among 91 sites owned by the Casual Dining Group which closed due to the company going into administration.

Nearly 2,000 jobs were lost because of the closures.

The board said that entering administration was in the best interests of stakeholders during the “extreme operating environment”.

Pizza Express — Ipswich and Sudbury

The national chain’s outlets in Ipswich’s Lloyds Avenue and Sudbury will not be reopening their doors – alongside another 71 restaurants across the country, as the company cuts 1,100 jobs.

The firm, which currently has around 454 restaurants, said it had finalised a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), despite the majority of its stores being profitable before lockdown.

It has, however, seen earnings decline across its estate for the past three years.

The Pizza Express restaurant in Sudbury 

The Pizza Express restaurant in Sudbury - Credit: Archant/ PA Images

The Rampant Horse — Needham Market

The Rampant Horse pub in Needham Market was put up for sale following the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic with the loss of seven jobs.

Owners Calvors Brewery had planned to reopen the pub but said it “hung on as long as they could” and were concerned about how they could make it viable.

They said it had been a difficult decision as it included making seven redundancies.

Greene King

In response to the announcement of a 10pm curfew for hospitality venues, Greene King permanently shut 26 sites across the country and axed 800 staff.

The Bury St Edmunds brewery manages 41 pubs in Norfolk and Suffolk — at the time a spokesman for the brewery said only pubs which had not reopened since the first lockdown would be affected.

St Nicholas Hospice Care — Bury St Edmunds

Eight redundancies were made at  St Nicholas Hospice Care in Bury St Edmunds after the charity lost £1million due to the coronavirus crisis.

The charity  announced in October it would be carrying out an organisation-wide restructure, bringing forward changes that had already been planned before Covid-19.

In December it was announced that eight people took compulsory redundancy out of the original 24 roles put at risk.

Direct Line — Ipswich

Back in February, Direct Line announced plans to close its Ipswich office on Friar Street with the loss of 200 jobs.

The closure will take place in 2022 as part of 800 job cuts across the UK.

A spokesman said the company had promised to give its staff 12 months notice of the closure date.

The Direct Line office in Ipswich will shut in 2022, taking with it 300 jobs.

The Direct Line office in Ipswich will shut in 2022, taking with it 300 jobs. - Credit: Archant


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