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Retail crisis worsens as Shop Direct axes 2,000 workers

BRITAIN'S retail industry crisis deepened yesterday with the announcement of 2,000 job losses at online firm Shop Direct in Greater Manchester.

Shop workers’ union Usdaw said staff were “shocked and devastated” at the announcement, which involves the closure of three Shop Direct centres near Oldham and Bolton.

Work will be transferred to an automated warehouse in the Midlands, where the company says around 500 new jobs and between 200-300 agency roles will be created.

These job losses are in addition to the 10,000 positions lost in Britain's retail sector in recent months by high street names such as Debenhams, Marks and Spencer, Mothercare. Toys R Us, Asda, Sainsbury, Homebase and Morrisons.

Usdaw divisional officer Mike Aylward said: “Our members are understandably shocked and devastated by today’s announcement of the proposed closure and relocation of the Shop Direct sites.

“The company has been providing employment for families in the North West for many decades and these sites have different generations of the same families working there.

"The impact of closures will be huge on hundreds of families, local businesses and the local communities.

“We are seeking an urgent meeting with the company to look at the business case for the proposed closures and we will look to mobilise the support of local MPs and councillors.”

Union officials are at the sites to advise workers.

Mr Aylward added: “Today’s announcement is also a very sad day for the North West as Shop Direct was created from the merger of the iconic mail order and retail giants, Littlewoods and Great Universal Stores and these are the company’s last remaining fulfilment sites in the region."
 
Shop Direct interim boss Derek Harding called it a "tough day for the business," but he insisted the proposals are necessary to secure its future.

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