A DEBENHAMS employee who lost his job over a conference call says it was a “heartless” act.

William Wakefield, from Worcester, has criticised the way Debenhams has made café staff redundant during the coronavirus lockdown.

He claims 10 members of staff were told via a conference call on May 28, led by the store manager, and were given four days’ notice of end of contract with no redundancy pay “whatsoever.”

Mr Wakefield, who had been working at the store for almost two years, said: “This must rank as one of the shabbiest ways of laying off loyal and hardworking staff ever.

“We understand the difficulties faced by the company but the disgusting and heartless way it was done beggars belief - a conference call with the store manager during which he read out a pre-prepared letter which came as a bolt out of the blue to all of us.

“None of us were offered alternative employment in the store.

“I am pretty sure that there are other staff members in other departments with less service than some of us, but it seems they are keeping their jobs while others with longer service are going.”

Mr Wakefield said the redundancies were made due to Debenhams café not reopening when the High Street store does on June 15.


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The 64-year-old said he does not qualify for any redundancy package and has “no idea what to do next.”

He added: “At first I was just stunned, but then after a day or so when I gave it more thought I began to get a little angry about it.

“All of us were very happy there and none of us has a personal axe to grind or a grudge against the store manager who, we all thought, was a lovely guy.

“I'd always liked working for Debenhams and I made some fab friends when working there.

“I do not attach any blame to the store manager for whom it must have been difficult to inform us we were being made redundant; however, I am incredibly angry with Head Office and the faceless senior managers who must have formulated this plan weeks ago.”

Debenhams has confirmed that some restaurant staff are being let go due to the limitations around reopening.

A Debenhams spokesman said: “Debenhams preparations to reopen the vast majority of its stores from 15 June are well under way following the successful conclusion of lease negotiations on 120 stores.

“In the context of a retail industry undergoing profound change, the management team is working on the future shape of the group, with a view to seeking an exit from administration as a going concern.

“With a leaner and more flexible operating model, Debenhams will have the ability to adapt to what are likely to be fundamental shifts in the future trading environment.”