Harveys Furniture staff told company had gone into administration ‘day after returning from furlough’

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STUNNED staff at sofa firm Harveys Furniture say they were brought back from furlough – only to be told the next day the company had gone administration.

The measures will result in 240 job losses, with over a thousand more to follow if the 20 stores at risk of closure shut.

Staff were told to return to work on Monday to prepare for the store reopening.

Harveys stores will stay open for now, with administrator PwC hoping to find a buyer for the firm.

The furniture chain is not currently taking any new orders but will honour existing ones, as per its website.

A worker at one store near Glasgow claims she spent an entire day re-arranging the shop for social-distancing measures only to be told the following morning the company was going into administration.

Speaking to The Scottish Sun, her husband said: “It’s a disgrace. They’d have known before she came into work that the company would have been going into administration.

“But yet they made her spend the day preparing social distancing measures so the shop was safe.”

He added: “Workers have been in tears at the news.”

Harveys is the latest retail casualty of the coronavirus crisis as high street stores fight to recover from lockdown.

Furniture retailers have also suffered from a recent slowdown in the housing market.

 

Bensons for Beds –  part of Harveys’ owners, Blue Group – was also put into administration today, but it was bought out in a pre-arranged deal by Alteri.

It was bought with aim of saving between 150 and 175 of the chain’s 242 stores, its Huntingdon manufacturing operation and nearly 1,900 jobs.

“A combination of structural issues and Covid means we are going to have to leave behind the underperforming part of the business”, said Alteri chief exec Gavin George, This Is Money reports.

Blue Group is responsible for more than 3,000 employees, with 1,000 worried staff yet to receive assurances about their jobs, according to Sky News.

The Sun has contacted Blue Group owner Alteri Investors for comment.

Altari is reportedly investing £25million into Bensons to speed up its recovery.

All existing Harveys and Bensons’ orders will be honoured by the retailers.

Chief executive Mark Jackson wrote to staff in an email: “Like most other retailers the impact of coronavirus has, I’m afraid, made a difficult situation even more challenging.

“So, it is with heartfelt regret that I must tell you today that the group has taken the difficult decision to call upon administrators.”

High streets across the UK have taken a hit due to lockdown forcing non-essential retailers to close for three months.

Retailers only began reopening their doors this month, although they have been allowed to trade online throughout the crisis.

Experts at the Centre for Retail Research predict 20,000 stores will close this year, resulting in 235,000 job losses in the retail sector.

The pandemic has so far seen the collapse of Cath Kidston and Laura Ashley, while Debenhams has also been forced to call in administrators for the second time in 12 months.

Oasis and Warehouse have also turned into online only retailers after falling into administration.

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