Buyer yet to be found for department store

IPSWICH: Jobs at a major town centre department store remain under threat as administrators struggle to find a buyer for the troubled chain.

The Vergo store, in Carr Street, is one of 18 branches across the East of England set to close if a suitable buyer cannot be found.

Administrators MCR, who have taken over Vergo, said talks with possible buyers for the stores were ongoing with several different interested parties.

Meanwhile, a discount sale continues at the store to generate enough cash for the business to survive in the short term.

A number of stores in the East have already been forced to close and lay off dozens of the 335 staff whose jobs are under threat in the region. Vergo went into administration earlier this month, after it bought the department stores from the East of England Co-operative Society last July.

Vergo took over the department and home stores business, while the society retained the freehold ownership of the buildings.

The Co-op welcomed the deal as a reprieve to staff at four outlets which were under threat of closure at the time.

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About 350 Co-op employees were transferred to the stores and Vergo was even given a year rent-free in the Co-op premises to support the deal. But last month, joint administrators Sarah Bell and Steven Muncaster, of MCR, announced Vergo was insolvent.

The final closing date for the stores involved has not yet been confirmed, but MCR spokesman Luke Derbyshire said regular dialogue continued with employees, trade unions and local authorities. He added: “There is no new news at the moment and it’s business as usual at the store for now.

“MCR is in ongoing discussion with several parties. There needs to be a buyer to sustain the business.”

Ten regional stores, including outlets at Ipswich and Felixstowe, continue to trade as usual while a buyer for Vergo is sought.

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