New store coming to Kirkcaldy High Street in crisis over pay claims

Concerns have been raised over a new store due to open in Kirkcaldy High Street, after it was alleged staff at another branch haven’t been paid in months.

Thursday, 19th December 2019, 12:18 pm
15:17 will take over the shop occupied by Debenhams on the High Street.
15:17 will take over the shop occupied by Debenhams on the High Street.

15:17 is due to open in the store currently held by Debenhams early next year, with a business model which involves a group of small local traders operating within the building.

However, after the first branch opened in Ayr in August, it has been claimed that a number of traders have not been paid – some say they are owed as much as £50,000.

A former manager with 15:17 alleges she was sacked after asking why she hadn’t been paid, and is still owed more than £20,000.

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Arlene Bovill was head of store operations for the UK for five months. She said: “I’m owed over £20,000. They’re just causing misery.

“My husband died and they sacked me two days before the funeral because they couldn’t afford to pay me.

“They’ve ruined so many lives in Ayr I wanted to warn the people of Kirkcaldy because they’ve ruined my life and I don’t want them to do it to other people. They’ll do exactly the same thing in Kirkcaldy.”

Concerns have also been raised about the involvement of businessman Ted Ward; a man previously convicted of operating as a company director while banned.

But 15:17 say Mr Ward is only an “independent property advisor” for the business, who negotiates deals for stores with landlords 
and deals with facilities issues.

The Press spoke to a number of traders involved who had either been paid late or not at all.

A spokesperson for 15:17 said there had been teething problems at the Ayr store, but these were being resolved.

She said: “15:17 at this time, due to the litigations and ACAS being involved, can’t pass comment on these allegations. All I can say is that there are six people involved, three of whom are being paid this week and their issues have been resolved. The remaining three are still under investigation.

“The Kirkcaldy store is due to open end February/early March 2020. 15:17 staff and shops working within the business have worked extremely hard to open the Ayr store and it will be the same process for Kirkcaldy.

“15:17 hopes to be home to many Kirkcaldy local businesses as well as national.

“The people employed in the new store will work very hard to make it a success and bring positivity back to the high street.”