British retailer Littlewoods plans to axe 3,200 jobs

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The large UK retail group Littlewoods is set to make 3,200 staff redundant and close 126 of its Index catalogue-based shops. It intends to sell the remaining 33 stores to its largest rival Argos.

The firm revealed that it had made accumulated losses at the Index chain of more than GBP 100 million (EUR 146 million, US$190 million) in their 20-year history.

Index currently employs about 4 000 staff, 3 200 will lose their jobs and the rest will be transferred to Argos, which is owned by GUS Plc. Great Universal Stores Plc, a FTSE 100 member, is one of the UK's largest retail firms controlling the successful Argos and Homebase chains. GUS is to pay Littlewoods GBP 44 million (EUR 64 million, US$ 83 million) for the 33 stores.

Littlewoods is owned by Sir Frederick and Sir David Barclay who bought the business in 2002 for GBP 750 million (EUR 1.1 billion, US$ 1.42 billion).

The company is one in a line of retailers feeling the pinch of consumers spending including Allders and The Gadget Shop.

There are rumours around that the Littlewoods chain of stores is also going soon, possibly to the Associated British Foods-owned discount clothing retailer Primark.