Shock for sacked card shop staff

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By Cara Sulieman

HUNDREDS of shocked card shop staff were told they were losing their jobs in a phone call from bosses yesterday – some given just 24-hrs notice that they are being shelved.

Managers at Birthdays branches across the country received a phone call from their area managers yesterday informing them of the decision after almost a month of uncertainty.

And one store, in Grangemouth, Stirlingshire, will be shutting its doors for the last time tonight.

The rest are expected to shut-up shop on Monday. Doors will be locked at 5.30pm with no closing down sale.

Liquidation

The blow comes on the same day as the Scottish Government announced that the number of people unemployed rose by 41,000.

And the Scottish Conservatives revealed that lower-skilled jobs have 22 people chasing each vacancy.

Birthday’s was placed into liquidation at the end of May by Clinton Cards, who have owned them since 2004.

Staff have been waiting to hear about their future from administrators Zolfo Cooper.

Earlier this week they were hopeful that their jobs would be safe with the news that Clinton Cards were looking at buying back 140 of the stores across the country.

Closing their shutters

They were also told that a number of buyers were lined up and their bids were being considered.

But now 25 shops across Scotland have had a call to say that they will be closing their shutters for the last time over the next few days.

At least 15 shops on the West coast and 10 in the Central belt and Lothians are being axed.

The majority are staying open only to trade the Father’s Day weekend, with just the Grangemouth store will be abandoned tonight.

Employees of the firm say are angry at the way they have been treated, especially the late notice that they have been given about their jobs.

“Numb”

A worker, who didn’t want to be named, said that they were “numb” after hearing the news.

She said: “We knew that the company were having problems but we never thought this would happen.

“Some of the girls have been here for 17 years and more and know nothing else.

“We’ll all just have to try and find other jobs but it’ll be really hard at the moment.”

As well as the shop staff, eight Area Managers are believed to have been axed in the process as their shops disappear.

Job transfer

The details of their unemployment are yet to be confirmed, leaving staff confused about what redundancy payments, if any, they will be offered.

Some hope that they will be offered posititons in other stores that will be kept open and believe that they are legally entitled to a transfer.

But Birthday’s and Zolfo Cooper were both unavailable for comment last night.

A statement from the receivers last night confirmed 800 jobs would go – with the closures of 132 Birthday’s shops across the UK.

Branches across Glasgow, Edinburgh, Fife and the Borders are all affected.

Redundant

A statement from Peter Saville, Partner at Zolfo Cooper Europe said: “No purchaser has been forthcoming for the remaining 132 stores or the Head Office at Bury and we will be implementing a closure programme with immediate effect, with all stores scheduled to cease trading by close of business on Wednesday 24 June 2009.

“Regrettably around 800 jobs will be made redundant across the group.

“All employees have been made aware of the situation and we are grateful for the understanding and support of staff, customers and suppliers throughout the Administration process.

“We will also be writing to all landlords shortly to inform them fully of the situation.”

He added that two offers had been accepted for the purchase of 210 other stores safeguarding approximately 1350 jobs.

Last night a spokeswoman said they were unable to give a complete breakdown of which Scottish stores would be affected.

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