Concern for Peterborough staff as retailer JTF Mega Discount Warehouse nears collapse
Uncertainty surrounds the future for Peterborough staff of a struggling discount retail chain.
The 40-year-old JTF Mega Discount Warehouse, which had operated a store employing 25 staff in Padholme Road East, is understood to have issued a notice to appoint administrators after a sale deal for the business collapsed.
The move puts 500 jobs nationally at risk but many staff say they have already had notice of redundancy.
The news comes just weeks after JTF had announced the temporary closure of its Peterborough store from May 31.
Bosses had said the closure was ahead of a relocation of the Peterborough operations to other unspecified premises in the city, and that the 25 staff would remain as employees of the company.
Since then the company’s 11 other stores have also been ‘temporarily’ closed.
It has been reported that the company ran into difficulties as a result of forced closure of stores during the Covid-19 lockdowns which wiped out fireworks and Christmas sales - two of its largest seasonal items.
Now national law firm Simpson Millar has announced it may act on behalf of staff over the apparent lack of consultation by the retailer about redundancies.
Staff claim they had received notice that they had been made redundant with immediate effect after a deal for the sale of the business fell through.
Simpson Millar says it is in the early stages of investigations to enable appropriate legal action to be brought to secure what is known as a Protective Award on their behalf for the company’s failure to properly consult staff regarding the mass redundancies.
The firm has also set up an online compensation form which allows other employees to see whether they can also claim.
Damian Kelly, head of employment law at the firm, said: “The current situation is making it difficult for many companies across most industries and it is no surprise that retail giants – and particularly those that are so reliant on physical footfall - are being significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Sadly in this instance we understand that there had been a buyer for the business, but that the sale will no longer be taking place.
“As a result, the number of employees who are facing redundancy is really quite significant.
Mr Kelley added: “While some companies are struggling because of the pandemic, they still have a duty under current employment law legislation to carry out a proper consultation with staff at risk of redundancies. Where that does not happen, employees can bring a claim for a Protective Award.”
A Protective Award is a payment awarded by an Employment Tribunal in cases where an employer fails to follow the correct procedure when making 20 or more redundancies and, where an Employment Tribunal finds in the favour of the employees, they will be able to access the funds via the Government Insolvency Service.
Simpson Millar’s leading employment law team is currently instructed by thousands of former employees affected by the collapse of a number of well-known businesses including Debenhams, Thomas Cook, Arcadia, Mothercare, Bathstore and Jamie’s Italian.