Union hopes are fading fast for the future of over 400 West Midland workers as time runs out to forge a rescue deal for eight TJ Hughes stores across the region.
Shopworkers’ union USDAW national officer John Gorle said he was “increasingly concerned” for the future of stores which were not part of this week’s sale to Lewis’s Home Retail Ltd.
Administrators Ernst and Young have announced the sale of TJ Hughes stores in Liverpool, Eastbourne, Glasgow and Sheffield to the Lewis group, saving a total of 442 jobs.
Mr Gorle said: “This looks like great news for everyone employed at the four stores being sold and I’m sure the saving of TJ’s flagship store will be particularly welcome news in Liverpool.
“The administrators will be giving us more detail about the sale and I will be seeking a meeting with Lewis’s Home Retail at the earliest opportunity.
“Despite this good news, we remain increasingly concerned about the future of the company’s remaining 53 stores which the administrators say are proving very difficult to find a buyer for.”
TJ Hughes has a string of stores across the West Midlands, including Perry Barr, Lichfield, Walsall, Wolverhampton, Kidderminster, Redditch, Coventry and Nuneaton. The eight regional stores employ over 400 people.
The 100-year-old department store chain collapsed into administration last month, with Ernst and Young appointed by the Liverpool-based firm’s owner Endless.
The owners said trading at TJ Hughes had been “significantly down” on last year due to difficult retail conditions and the loss of supplier and credit insurer confidence.
Joint administrator Tom Jack said of the Lewis’s Home Retail deal: “We are delighted to have exchanged contracts on this deal, which saves 442 jobs and continues the TJ Hughes legacy in Liverpool, as well as in other locations.
“The Joint Administrators continue to seek a sale of the company’s remaining business and assets as a going concern, whilst also trading stock through the group’s 57 stores.”