Woolworths: Fight to save national treasure

PUBLISHED: 13:18 02 December 2008 | UPDATED: 22:41 15 June 2010

TWENTY-EIGHT jobs are at stake at two stores in Honiton and Seaton as administrators try to find a buyer for a mainstay of Britain's high streets.

TWENTY-EIGHT jobs are at stake at two stores in Honiton and Seaton as administrators try to find a buyer for a mainstay of Britain's high streets.The Woolworths stores are expected to stay open, at least until after Christmas, and employees have been assured their wages will be paid.Woolworths employs 16 people at its store in Lace Walk, Honiton and a further 12 people in Seaton.An East Devon business leader says the demise of Woolworths, considered a national treasure, should serve as a stark warning to other retailers - especially independent shops.After long-running speculation, Woolworths went into administration on Thursday last week.Administrators Deloitte told the Herald they had mobilised a large team to stabilise the business.A spokesman said there had been a lot of interest in both the retail and wholesale businesses and talks were being held this week. She was unable to comment on the effects on individual stores.Neville Kahn, reorganisation services partner at Deloitte, said: "Woolworths has suffered a number of cash flow problems. "Strenuous efforts over recent weeks to keep Woolworths plc and Entertainment UK Limited going have, unfortunately, failed and the businesses are now looking to be rescued under the administration process."He added: "We appreciate the co-operation and support from the management and staff at the company. We are glad that arrangements are in place to ensure that all wages will be paid in full this week."His colleague Dan Butters said they were looking to find a suitable buyer for all parts of the business and had already received interest from a number of parties, both for the retail and wholesale businesses.He said: "We are working hard to ensure that any sale of the business, in whole or part, will preserve jobs."Simon Wood, of the Association of East Devon Chambers of Commerce, said: "If a company such as Woolworths suffers in this type of economic climate then every business must take every possible step to ensure they keep costs down while meeting the needs of their customers."Trading conditions are extremely tough and no one is exempt from the difficulties that will prevail."Local residents need to support local companies, while at the same time getting value for money.

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