Tuesday 23 July 2019

Staff devastated at sudden closure of shop

Tommy's Wonderland store in the Blanchardstown Shopping Centre , Dublin, which closed last night
Tommy's Wonderland store in the Blanchardstown Shopping Centre , Dublin, which closed last night

Grainne Cunningham

THE OWNER of a toy shop last night defended his decision not to give staff any warning that the store was shutting down at close of business yesterday.

Speaking just before he handed his 17 workers their P45s, Fergal Crinnion said soaring rates and service charges had forced him to put Tommy's Wonderland at the Blanchardstown Shopping Centre into liquidation.

Mr Crinnion insisted there was nothing underhand about his decision to keep staff in the dark until the last minute saying: "With bad news, when you need to know it, you just need to hear it quickly."

Shocked staff last night expressed outrage to the Irish Independent after they learned by word of mouth on Friday that the business was being liquidated and their jobs were gone with immediate effect.

Just minutes after the last sale was rung up, the shutters came down and work on removing remaining stock from the shop began. The stock will be transported to a warehouse to be assessed by the liquidator. Workers, some of whom have worked at the shop for over 15 years, will receive statutory redundancy and holiday pay.

Vida Akauskien, who has worked in the shop for the past eight years, said: "I know the country is in an economic crisis but how can they treat people like that?"

Her colleague Georgina Herbert, who has worked in the shop for 25 years said: "This is an absolute nightmare. I have been crying non-stop since I found out.

"All the staff were told to collect their P45s this evening. Everybody is so upset. We all have mortgages and cars," she said.

The staff, which includes 17 full and part-time workers, said they discovered that the shop was due to go into liquidation from other traders in the shopping centre and had received no official notification from Mr Crinnion.

Last night before he met with staff, Mr Crinnion said he finally decided he had no choice but to liquidate the business at the end of last week. He said that if he had told staff about the imminent closure any earlier, some of them might not have turned up to work for the last few days.

He said his decision to liquidate the business was due to the high rates and service charges at the shopping centre. He said he had just received a bill of €102,000 for rates which he is currently appealing.

He said he was already paying service charges of €100,000 and annual rent of €760,000 and simply could not continue.

"I have to call 110 suppliers and tell them I can't pay them. I have a list in my pocket. It's very personal. Some of those people were at my wedding," Mr Crinnion said.

He said that at least the law ensured that staff would get statutory redundancy but they were still complaining. "They get their money either way," he said.

Mr Crinnion, who closed a shop in the Northside Shopping Centre earlier this year and another in Limerick three years ago, said it was a difficult decision to make. "It is like losing children, if that doesn't sound too dramatic," he said.

Irish Independent

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