Furniture store staff face dismal week

COURTS staff could be out of a job as soon as this week if the remaining furniture in the troubled chain's Ipswich store is sold, the Evening Star can reveal today.

COURTS staff could be out of a job as soon as this week if the remaining furniture in the troubled chain's Ipswich store is sold, the Evening Star can reveal today.

Employees at the Ranelagh Road store have been warned it could be closed by Thursday if enough furniture is sold at cut-prices.

Although SB Capital, the retail turnaround specialists which purchased the debt-laden Courts chain, could not confirm a closure date for the Ipswich store, it is understood January 4 is the date the outfit has told the last remaining staff they may be out of a job.

"We can't give any idea of when it's actually going to close because it will shift from day to day," a spokeswoman for SB Capital said.

"It is going to hinge upon selling the goods that are in the store. Once the stock has gone then the store will close.

"All the staff there know that once the store closes they do not have a job. They knew that from day one.

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"Hopefully some of them will have got jobs elsewhere."

Further price reductions are expected as efforts to sell the last remaining stock intensify.

Last week Courts continued to operate on a skeleton staff, only remaining open when staffing levels were sufficient.

The store is expected to open every day until its closure, between the hours of 9am and 6pm if there are sufficient staff on hand.

Courts announced on November 20 that it was being placed into administration over debts totalling £280.

After agreeing a deal with administrators KPMG Corporate Recovery, SB Capital plans to operate 14 of Courts' 88 stores in England and Wales.

Ipswich is among the remainder which will be subject to a phased wind-down programme ending on February 20.

It is understood KPMG is still looking for a buyer for the Ipswich store.

Thousands of customers were affected when the chain was placed into administration but SB Capital said most had now either received the furniture they had paid for or been given their money back.

"We know that across the country about 80 per cent of all the customers who on the 20th of November were hit by the administration have had a satisfactory result either by getting goods or being able to get their money back through credit firms or insurance," the spokeswoman said.

Weblink: www.courts.co.uk

Are you a Courts staff member affected by the looming closure? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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