More than 1,500 jobs are at risk after Virgin Media announced plans to shut a Swansea call centre, and as the company behind the fashion brands Jacques Vert and Windsmoor teeters on the edge of collapse.
More than 1,000 jobs are on the line at Calvetron. Administrators are expected to be formally appointed at the parent group, Calvetron Style Holdings, on Friday for what will be the second time in a year.
Virgin Media confirmed it was cutting jobs as part of a shake-up that will involve the closure of its call centre in Swansea and another site in Nottingham over the next two years. The Swansea centre employs 792 staff. Some roles are being switched to Manchester.
The telecoms company said the decision was part of a £40m plan to create “fewer, higher-quality workplaces.”
Virgin Media, which has 14,000 employees across more than 100 sites, is reducing the number of customer operations centres from eight to four, creating larger regional hubs in Wythenshawe in Greater Manchester, Bellshill near Glasgow, Gateshead, Teesside and Reading.
The Swansea West MP, Geraint Davies, described the job cuts as a “catastrophe for our city”.
“I’m stunned by the Virgin job losses, which is a traumatic shock for every family concerned and a body blow for Swansea,” he said.
Carolyn Harris, the Swansea East MP, said Virgin Media handled the situation very badly and had “questions to answer” about the job losses.
Virgin Media’s chief executive, Tom Mockridge, said: “We have proposed the closure of a small number of our offices over the next two years, including our call centre in Swansea and our current site in Nottingham.
“These changes will help deliver a more agile, digitally oriented experience, which our customers increasingly expect as standard.”
Last summer, Calvetron was restructured in a rescue deal that resulted in several hundred job losses. It was acquired by a group of retail investors, which at the time included the former Jaeger owner Harold Tillman and the businessmen Sandeep Vyas and Haseeb Aziz.
The business secured a £12.5m loan from Secure Trust Bank to fund its turnaround.
But since then, fashion retailers have faced an extremely tough market. The weather – an unusually warm autumn last year and miserable spring this year – has combined with the squeeze on consumers, the rising cost of labour and imported goods, a continuing switch to online shopping, and a trend for shoppers to spend more on leisure than fashion, to create the harsh retail environment.
Store closures are planned at New Look and Carpetright, while Toys R Us and Maplin have collapsed. Mothercare and Homebase are also expected to close stores as they struggle to find new funding.
Calvetron’s problems have been magnified by difficulties at Debenhams and House of Fraser, two of its biggest retail partners.
On Wednesday, House of Fraser said store closures were coming as part of a restructuring deal that will give control of the retail chain to the Chinese owner of Hamleys. Hundreds of jobs are expected to go.
At the time of the 2017 rescue, Calvetron had more than 1,200 UK staff working in shops in department stores, and another 400 overseas in countries including Belgium and Canada.
Calvetron was not available to comment.