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Jobs to go just weeks before Christmas

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P&H Palmer and Harvey, Davigdor Road, Hove..

THREE hundred and fifty workers face redundancy after one of Sussex’s biggest employers went into administration.

Palmer & Harvey, which has its headquarters in Davigdor Road, Hove, collapsed into administration yesterday despite attempts to secure a lifeline for the troubled wholesaler.

The company employees around 3,400 people of which 2,500 have now been made redundant. Around 350 are employed in the Hove office.

The remaining workers are said to be tasked with bringing the business to an orderly close.

However, PwC, which has been appointed as administrators, said all jobs remained at risk.

It is not yet clear how many of the Hove staff have already been made redundant.

The 90-year-old firm said “challenging trading conditions” had heaped pressure on its cash flow and efforts to revive the business failed to take hold.

The group entered takeover talks with the Carlyle Group in October, but the US private equity fund’s offer of investment in exchange for a controlling stake did not progress.

The company is the UK’s biggest supplier of cigarettes and provides alcohol, groceries and frozen food to 90,000 stores – including Tesco – and supplies from 14 regional distribution centres.

Matthew Callaghan, joint administrator and PwC partner, said: “This is a devastating blow for everyone who has been involved in the business.

“The administration team will focus on working with employees, clients and suppliers to facilitate a smooth and effective wind-down or transfer of operations over the next few weeks.

“The P&H Group has faced a challenging trading environment, and the need for significant restructuring has been recognised for some while.

“The company has insufficient cash resources to continue to trade beyond the short term and the directors have concluded that there is no longer any reasonable prospect of a sale.

“Therefore, the directors have had no choice but appoint administrators.”

PwC said it had secured staff pay for November and was now seeking buyers for the group’s subsidiary businesses, P&H Direct Van Sales, P&H Sweetdirect and P&H Snacksdirect.

Mr Callaghan added: “The administrators are working closely with employees affected by the closure of the business to ensure they receive the support they need during this difficult time to assist with their claims for redundancy and other compensatory payments.

“Our priority is to ensure that all employees made redundant are assisted in processing their claims with immediate effect.”


Source: The Argus