Sad farewell for Allders' staff

HEARTBROKEN but determined to fight another day.Those were the sentiments of Ipswich's now jobless Allders staff who put away their name badges today and said goodbye to what many of them described as their second family.

By GRANT SHERLOCK business reporter grant.sherlock@eveningstar.co.uk>

HEARTBROKEN but determined to fight another day.

Those were the sentiments of Ipswich's now jobless Allders staff who put away their name badges today and said goodbye to what many of them described as their second family.

Most of the troubled department store chain's 250 Ipswich employees woke up today unemployed but buoyed by an enormous show of support from their colleagues yesterday.


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In a finale farewell to the store, more than 60 Allders staff from the Buttermarket shopping centre, St Stephen's Street, gathered at Pals bar in the Buttermarket to share a drink, and a few laughs.

Sales assistant Maggie Blackbourn , who worked for Owen Owen before Allders took over in 1994 and has been at the store for 13 years, said: "It's heartbreaking. It's like a bereavement. It's very, very sad."

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Allders officially closed to the public on Tuesday but staff were kept on to clear the last goods out before they left yesterday.

Trish Sanderson, a sales assistant with Allders for 10 years, said: "It hasn't hit me yet.

"It's sad. We always stuck by each other.

"I don't know what I'm going to do now."

Colleague Mandy Curtis, a 44-year-old sales assistant in the lingerie department from Alberta Close, Kesgrave, added: "A lot of customers are really sad to see it go because there's so few department stores in Ipswich.

"It was such a good team to be a part of. Sometimes it's the staff that make the shop."

She added: "We joked we were going to go to the Job Centre as a job lot."

The Allders store closed after 10 years in the Buttermarket because administrators Kroll had been unable to find a buyer for it.

The chain, which operated 45 stores nationwide, was placed into administration in January after owners Scarlett Retail put it up for sale but failed to find a buyer.

Some stores have been sold to other leading chains but there was no interest in taking over the Ipswich store.

Store manager Rai Holdstock praised his staff for their hard work during the past month despite knowing they had lost their jobs.

He said: "Every single one of them has worked harder than they ever have before simply because they have pride in the store.

"It wasn't just a shop, it was a family.

"Right to the 11th hour we thought there were bids that we coming in to buy it but it just didn't happen.

"Eventually somebody will go in that store, it's too good a store to stay empty.

"I'm so proud of them. Every single one of them was just so professional.

"They were superb."

N Are you sad to see Allders close? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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