Massive DIY store closes on outskirts of Limerick
THIRTY people are facing redundancy after DIY retailer Wickes closed in Limerick.
In another blow to the city’s retail sector, the British DIY chain closed its doors last Thursday, citing a ‘gas leak’.
But on Monday night, staff at the Ballysimon Road store received confirmation that they are being placed on temporary layoff.
The company did not return telephone calls from the Chronicle, but staff have confirmed they have been told their jobs are gone.
A letter from Ciaran Ellis, the manager of Wickes in Limerick, said that “a decision imposed on us by external factors beyond our control” meant staff were on temporary layoff.
“We recognise the commitment you have shown, and we regret we have been forced to take this action,” the letter continued.
Owned by Travis Perkins in Britain, Wickes is operated on a franchise basis by the Home Property Centre (HPC) group in Ireland.
Its Limerick store - opened four-and-a-half years ago - is the only Wickes in Ireland.
The Limerick Chronicle understands that the decision to pull the plug on its Irish operation was taken in Britain.
One staff member, Richard Meehan of Rhebogue said there was never a leak at the store.
“They just put that up in the window to ensure that no staff got in the store,” he said.
Staff were effectively told on Thursday morning their jobs were gone, he added.
“They rang us on Thursday, at about 8.10am, saying if you are on your way to work, you might as well turn around and go back home, because you no longer work for Wickes. They are basically saying: bin your uniforms, because you will never see a Wickes [store] in Ireland again,” Mr Meehan said.
He said it was “disappointing” management at Wickes used the excuse of a gas leak publicly, but privately told staff their jobs were gone.
The gardai and the fire services were not aware of any gas leak, and a spokesperson for Bord Gais said that they had not been notified of any incident.
SIPTU organiser Arek Muszynski said the union is seeking an urgent meeting with management at the retailer.
“Workers have been left in limbo: they were told they might as well throw away their uniforms, because they will never put one on again. This does not do justice to them. It is very unsettling,” he said.
It is not the first time Wickes staff here were left facing redundancy: last year, a management buyout of Moritz, which saw it become HPC, saved the local jobs.
Upon acquiring the Wickes franchise, property group Moritz had planned to roll the brand out across Ireland in a €30m expansion.
The move would have seen over 400 jobs created nationwide. But as market conditions deteriorated in 2009, the move was put on ice.
The potential closure of Wickes comes as another blow to the retail sector here. Nearby DIY store B&Q is in examinership, and facing an uncertain future, music store HMV has closed, and BlackTie is in liquidation.
Search for a job
Weather for Limerick
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South
Temperature: 9 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: South