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Retail groups are going in to receivership, companies are rationalising. The result is shops are closing. Not work we seek, however, increasingly we are asked to assist.


As a company who thankfully spends the majority of its time opening and building businesses, we commit a great deal of effort in instilling in the staff a sense and commitment to the brand and loyalty to the company, and awareness of their customer needs.


 


We have been working recently with a group of shops in administration and staff with the knowledge that their stores were at risk. While the administrators do their job this can take time and leaves the store staff in a period of limbo. Most staff are realistic and understand the gravity of the situation and the likely outcome, however, human nature is such that hope springs eternal.


 


There comes a time when a decision may be made to close the shops, this often results in a large number of stores closing in a very short time. It then becomes a logistical exercise. Consideration of the staffs situation is always there, however, there is a job to be done, all to soon the time comes to lock the door for the final time and someone walks away with your keys and a chunk of your life.


 


My job last week was to inform a manager and staff at 9am that the store was closing with immediate effect and the store would be cleared by close of business the following day. Only a small number of staff were in at 9am, however, as each was contacted they all came in to assist their manager with the closure. First in mind were their customers who had stock paid for and waiting collection particularly a group for a wedding. This manager had run the store for over twenty years with her deputy of the last fifteen years, shortest serving member of staff was seven years. Over the two days the staff worked tirelessly on the closure interrupted by an endless stream of customers knocking on the door to express their shock and support for the staff who obviously had served them well.  Flowers and sweets were arriving accompanied often by tears mostly from the customers. Most common phrase "we will miss you, where will I go now?" This was a family break up, a family brought together by a manager under a brand.


 


What struck me was the impact this one closure would have on its customers and the town centre. From the outside it was just another shop closing. However tomorrow there would not be ten staff coming in to town each day, there was the loss of their income to the community, there was yet another reason for a customer to reconsider the town as s worthwhile destination.   There was the social element and interaction experienced by a regular customer visiting this shop, not easily replaced, again an erosion of the town visit experience.


 


In one week I met three people who gave over 20 Years a company and a brand. This week they have no job. The value of their experience is immeasurable, we wish them all the best , and in case no one mentioned it , Thanks.  


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