Staff at Clarks shoes in Nantwich face an uncertain future after they learned the shop where they work is available to rent after an image appeared on social media.
Clarks announced on November 4th they were looking to enter into a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) with its creditors in order to secure the future of the business going forward and that there was no intention to close stores.
Clarks made staff aware of the plans the same day.
News that the premises are now available for rent is likely to raise questions about the shops future and job security at a time when traditional high street shopping is suffering from effects of the Coronavirus.
The image shown below indicates the staff were not aware the premises were available to rent.
Text accompanying the image says:
*** private &confidential, staff unaware*** to let subject to vacant possession
Crewe News has been in contact with the PR company that represent Clarks.
We understand the decision to make the premises available for rent was solely made by the landlord and not as a result of Clarks indicating they were vacating the premises.
They referred us back to a press release issued on November 4th whereby it was announced the company was looking to enter into the CVA.
In that statement, Philip de Klerk, Interim Chief Financial Officer at Clarks said:
In order to address the permanent shift in structural shopping behaviour as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the CVA is being launched out of absolute necessity. The proposal to creditors outlines a combination of a reduction of rent and a move to rebase Clarks’ rental cost base through a turnover-based model that aligns to future performance and reflects the wider retail market. As part of the CVA, we will move 60 of our 320 stores to nil rent.
It is important to stress that we are not announcing the closure of any stores today, and employees and suppliers will continue to be paid.
Speaking to Crewe News, Labour Councillor Anthony Critchley said:
It is incredibly concerning to see premises being advertised for rent before staff have even been made aware their jobs might be at risk – particularly so close to Christmas. Our high streets have been struggling for a long time and Coronavirus has taken an extra toll. Central government needs to take responsibility and work with local authorities to fix the long standing issues facing this sector, including sky high rents driven by the property market.
Crewe News has contacted the landlord and is awaiting an update from them.