MP blames firm for staff plight

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THE plight of 115 workers, who lost their jobs when the factory closed without enough money to meet the wage bill, has been blamed on the company’s owners.

Louise Mensch, MP for Corby and East Northamptonshire, said Aquascutum made no provision for its workforce, despite the company’s financial difficulties.

The factory in Princewood Road, Corby, closed on Thursday when administrators FRP Advisory told workers there was no money to cover monthly pay cheques, due in their accounts next week.

There will be no redundancy packages, holiday pay or pay in lieu of notice.

Mrs Mensch said: “The owners of the company are entirely to blame. They made no provision for the workforce and did not invest in the Corby factory, failing to keep it up to date. It has been a terrible shock for the workers.”

Aquascutum which has dressed Winston Churchill and the Queen Mother, collapsed into administration on Tuesday after making significant losses, despite efforts made by owner Harold Tillman to turn it around.

He had invested £30m in the business since September 2009.

This week he sold a majority stake in fashion chain Jaeger, which he had owned since March 2003.

Mrs Mensch said: “The Jaeger brand had been subsidising Aquascutum for a considerable time. The administrators can only work with what they have, it’s the owners who are to blame.”

FRP Advisory said that after carrying out a detailed review of the company’s financial position it decided the Corby factory was no longer viable. The closure is necessary to safeguard the future of Aquascutum’s remaining 135 employees.

The administrators said workers can make a claim for all statutory entitlements from the Redundancy Payments Office, including arrears of pay up to statutory limits, pay in lieu of notice, holiday pay and a redundancy payout, if they are entitled.

Deputy leader of Corby Council Mark Pengelly said the authority had designated a member of its staff to help Aquascutum workers.

He said: “We will do everything we can to help and, if we can’t, we will point them in the right direction.

“We will try to mitigate these terrible circumstances in whatever way we can.

“The closure of the factory is another blow to manufacturing in the town.”

Aquascutum, which has no other manufacturing sites in the UK or abroad, has three high street stores, at Westfield White City, Canary Wharf and Windsor, and 16 concessions, including at Harrods.