Staff fear multi-million investment in Huntingdon garden centre could impact jobs

09:30 27 February 2014

Huntingdon Garden & Leisure

Huntingdon Garden & Leisure

Archant

A multi-million pound investment at Huntingdon Garden and Leisure is being planned by the new owner – but staff fear a restructure of the Wyton business could lead to job losses.

The Garden Centre Group (TGCG), which bought the Garden & Leisure Group in September, is planning a £2million renovation of the centre which could see the likes of WH Smith and Costa Coffee added to the franchises at the site.

But The Hunts Post has been contacted by staff, who wished to remain anonymous, saying colleagues were told on February 14 that some faced losing their jobs as the workforce would be reduced. It was claimed about 30 roles could 
be at risk.

They also said both full-time and 
part-time staff were having their hours reduced and that some of the current franchises at the garden centre would be replaced, with the likes of Mountain Warehouse moving in.

“Staff are obviously extremely upset at the news given the hard work that was put in by everyone during the busy Christmas period and now feel they were used by the new company to ensure profits were met during this time,” they said. “A lot of people are at risk of losing their jobs due to the loss of hours, especially those who require full-time jobs.”

Earlier this month Horticulture Week reported that WH Smith would be installed into some of its branches.

Dave Murray, Garden & Leisure Group acting managing director, told the 
magazine: “TGCG have been quite open about their desire to look at retail in a different way and they are continuing to explore and try things out with a range of different partners.

“WH Smith have been around for ever. What TGCG is looking at is how to bring in different types of customers.”

He also said that Costa Coffee, which is already operating in the group’s Northampton branch, could be a “multi-siting food and beverage” option.

Managers at all of TGCG’s 139 stores are being assessed to test their strengths and weaknesses, the company also 
said.

A spokesman for TGCG would not confirm if jobs were at risk but said: “We are currently in the process of making investments in our Huntingdon centre to ensure it is fresh, exciting, and provides our customers opportunities to shop with us all year round.

“As part of this process we are 
reviewing the management structure and staffing models at the centre to 
ensure they are efficient and evaluating opportunities to collaborate with concession partners. We are very excited about the opportunities to invest and develop this centre.”

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