Focus workers worry despite buyout rumour

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WORRIED workers at the Leven branch of doomed DIY retailer Focus have started a petition in an attempt to safeguard their jobs.

The Riverside Retail Park store’s 18 employees sprung into action last week after it was rumoured B&Q owner Kingfisher had purchased the stricken Leven store, but would not automatically be re-employing any of the staff.

A Focus worker, who wished not to be named, told the Mail, Leven colleagues had finally had enough.

“At first, we were just staying quiet but now we have had enough and we have started a petition to fight to save our jobs,” the worker revealed.

“From what we have heard, B&Q have bought the store but they are not planning on keeping any of the current staff on.

“We have not heard anything officially to confirm it or been told any dates, but we believe it is the only Scottish store they have bought.

“We have heard Wickes and B&M are keeping staff on at the stores they have bought but we understand nobody here will even be guaranteed an interview.

“It doesn’t make sense, as we are already a DIY store and a lot of us have been here since the shop opened, and we class this as our store.”

The worker said concerned fellow colleagues got together and have put a petition in the store for customers to sign, saying they would like existing staff to be kept on.

The worker added: “For some reason, TUPE (legislation which can preserve workers’ terms and conditions when a business is transferred to a new employer) doesn’t apply to us and they don’t have to take us on, but we thought they would have at least guaranteed us an interview.”

At the time of going to press, the Mail was unable to reach representatives of B&Q or Kingfisher for comment.

The group has previously announced it purchased 31 of the Focus stores for £23 million but did not reveal whether Leven was one of them.

On its website, B&Q states it actively aims to eliminate discrimination and promote equality regardless of age, gender, colour, ethnic or national origin, culture, religion or other philosophical belief, disability, marital or civil partnership status, political affiliation, sexual identity or sexual orientation.

Focus announced it had fallen into administration on May 4 with debts of around £174 million.

Administrator Ernst and Young said it would try to sell its 175 stores as a going concern.

Almost immediately, B&Q owner Kingfisher bought 31 stores and last week, fellow DIY retailer Wickes agreed to buy 13 with B&M Retail purchasing a further 11.