Jobs axed at Essex furniture firm

PUBLISHED: 12:55 02 October 2008 | UPDATED: 14:08 10 May 2010

Willis & Gambier closes down.
Saffron Walden.
September 29, 2008.
Photograph by Michael Boyton.
Pic shows: External view of the company offices.

Willis & Gambier closes down. Saffron Walden. September 29, 2008. Photograph by Michael Boyton. Pic shows: External view of the company offices.

A COMPANY based in Saffron Walden has gone out of business with the loss of 57 jobs. Willis & Gambier, a Radwinter Road-based designer and importer of wooden furniture, has been taken into administration after its cashflow dried up. Axed employee John And

A COMPANY based in Saffron Walden has gone out of business with the loss of 57 jobs.

Willis & Gambier, a Radwinter Road-based designer and importer of wooden furniture, has been taken into administration after its cashflow dried up.

Axed employee John Anderson, 33, said he was "absolutely disgusted" with the way staff had been treated.

"We were not given any notice," said Mr Anderson who worked as an IT support manager.

"At about midday last Wednesday some people turned up at the site in big 4x4 cars - it looked like a scene from Men in Black. They told us to stop working and that the company had gone into administration.

"We lost our jobs on the spot without any warning. We were not allowed back on our computers - we just had to pick up our stuff and go. People were hugging each other and crying in the car park.

"One woman who lost her job had worked for Willis & Gambier since 1990," he added. "We were given no redundancy money and we haven't been paid for September."

Accountancy firm Pricewaterhouse-Coopers (PWC) confirmed it had been appointed as administrators of Willis Gambier Ltd and had taken over the management of the business.

A PWC spokesman said: "Basically their cash flow dried up. There wasn't enough coming in to cover their outgoings.

"As administrators our aim is the continuation of the business - we don't want to see it fall over. At the moment our number one priority is to find a buyer."

Willis & Gambier has an annual turnover of £28 million and employs 130 staff, confirmed PWC.

The majority of the staff are employed at the company's new distribution centre and warehouse in Peterborough.

Twenty-six people have lost their jobs at the Radwinter Road site and 31 others have been made redundant from the Peterborough warehouse.

"At Saffron Walden, only about six to eight people have been kept on to fulfil the company's obligations to the big department stores - everyone else has been got rid of," said Mr Anderson who has been with Willis & Gambier for a year and a half.

Starting life in 1990 as a bed designer and importer based in Takeley, Willis & Gambier moved to the Radwinter Road site in 1998. In June 2008 they leased a 545,000sq ft warehouse in Peterborough.

The company sells its products to top of the range stores, such as John Lewis, House of Fraser, Laura Ashley and Marks and Spencer.

Nobody from Willis & Gambier would comment at the time of going to press.

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