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‘You could hear somebody crying’ – Debenhams makes 20 staff redundant via conference call

PUBLISHED: 16:50 11 August 2020 | UPDATED: 10:09 12 August 2020

Debenhams, Arc shopping centre at Bury St Edmunds where it is alleged 20 staff have been made redundant. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Debenhams, Arc shopping centre at Bury St Edmunds where it is alleged 20 staff have been made redundant. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

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Debenhams has allegedly made 20 staff redundant at its Bury St Edmunds store via conference call – just two months after it did the same to employees in Ipswich.

A now-former employee – who asked not to be named – worked at the store in the Arc Shopping Centre since it opened 11 years ago, but was made redundant over the phone at 10am this morning.

Debenhams refused to confirm or deny the figure of 20 staff in Bury but did today announce swathing job cuts across the UK.

The former employee said: “Last night I had an email saying: ‘I’m inviting you to a conference call at 10am tomorrow’.“20 of us went on the conference call – but I think there were a couple that didn’t bother – and we were told: ‘The company is in administration, there is no money and your contract is terminated on Friday 14’.

MORE: Debenhams makes 40 staff redundant in Ipswich and Colchester ‘by conference call’

“I think we can apply to the government for redundancy, but there is no money from the administrators and we probably won’t get any accrued holiday pay.”

“He read out some frequently asked questions, and then at the end he said: ‘Has anybody got any questions?’.

“You could hear somebody crying and everybody stayed silent. It was horrible.

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“There’s no need to treat people like that. You know if we had just been taken into the office, you know, face-to-face.

“But we had to dial in. It’s my money, my phone call and it just grates on you a bit.

“I enjoyed my 11 years there. It’s not about putting clothes on hangers, it’s about the people you work with.

“It was a very strong team. We’re gonna miss each other more than anything, but we’ll stay in touch because we had such a strong bond.”

Back in June, Debenhams allegedly made 40 people redundant from its Ipswich and Colchester stores, also via a conference call.

MORE: Counties’ job losses mount as bleak fallout from crisis begins to emerge

A spokesman for Debenhams said that as the company is in administration employees are not entitled to holiday pay or notice. She added that those affected will receive statutory redundancy payments.

The company also provided a statement. It said: “We have successfully reopened 124 stores, post-lockdown, and these are currently trading ahead of management expectations. At the same time, the trading environment is clearly a long way from returning to normal and we have to ensure our store costs are aligned with realistic expectations.

“Those colleagues affected by redundancy have been informed and we are very grateful to them for their service and commitment to Debenhams. Such difficult decisions are being taken by many retailers right now, and we will continue to take all necessary steps to give Debenhams every chance of a viable future.”


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