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Crawley to lose its ‘standalone’ Carphone warehouse with potential job losses as 531 stores close

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Carphone Warehouse has announced it is to close all of its 531 standalone stores from the 3rd April.

For Crawley this will mean the closure of the store in The Martletts. But the other site within PC World in County Oak Retail Park will remain as the firm concentrates on selling through their shop-in-shop sites.

Dixons said that almost 40% of affected colleagues are expected to take new roles in the business, and other colleagues will be fully supported.

The group added:

“Today’s announcement is an essential next step in Dixons Carphone’s turnaround of its Mobile business as part of its strategy outlined in December 2018, to return this part of the business, which will make a £90m loss this year, to profitability.

Customers are changing the way they buy mobile devices and connectivity, replacing their handsets less often and buying them separately or as part of more flexible bundles.

Customers are also increasingly choosing to shop, not only with our large and growing online business, but also in the company’s big 3-in-1 stores, featuring Currys, PCWorld and Carphone Warehouse, which continue to grow market share and where customer satisfaction is sharply up. These stores, which are 20 times larger than Carphone Warehouse standalone stores, allow customers to see, touch and play with technology (electricals as well as mobile, services as well as products) and receive trusted independent advice from 17,000 expert store colleagues, all in one place. The business has been investing tens of millions of pounds in these stores.

The group also said that it had not yet seen seen a material impact from COVID-19, though they are preparing for one.

Alex Baldock, Group Chief Executive said:

“Customers are changing how they buy technology, and Dixons Carphone must change with them. We’re underway with a fundamental transformation to do so. Today’s tough decision is an essential part of that, the next step in making our UK Mobile business a success for customers, colleagues and other shareholders. Clearly, with unsustainable losses of £90m expected this year, Mobile is currently holding back the whole business. There’s never an easy time for an announcement like this, but the turbulent times ahead only underline the importance of acting now.

I don’t underestimate how upsetting this news will be for our colleagues, and we’ll treat everyone with honesty, respect and care. We want to keep as many of our Carphone Warehouse colleagues as we can, and expect to find new roles for almost 40% of those affected. We’re working hard to look after those colleagues we can’t find new roles for, financially and otherwise. We’ll pay enhanced redundancy, any bonuses, honour their share awards, and help them find new jobs through an outplacement programme. We recognise our responsibilities towards our colleagues and communities, and intend to fulfil them.

But though this is by far the toughest decision we’ve had to make, it is necessary. We must follow our customers. They want help with all technology, all in one place, and this trend is only going to accelerate in a more connected 5G world.

So customers are increasingly heading, not just to our large and growing online business, but into our big stores, where they can find all the experts and tech – mobiles, computers, TVs, smart tech, appliances, gaming and all the rest – they need. But they can’t find all this in the small mobile-only stores that are one twentieth of the size; they’re visiting these less and these stores are losing more money as a result.

That’s why we’re committed to our more than 300 big stores around the UK, why we’re investing tens of millions of pounds in them and in the thousands of expert colleagues who work in them. But it’s also why sadly we have to close the small stores.

We remain committed to Mobile, as we’re showing by developing a new offer for customers, retaining as many Carphone Warehouse colleagues as we can, and making Mobile a core category in our big stores and online. As such, Mobile will be part of the one, joined-up business that customers want and that’s essential for our transformation. Today’s announcement is about ensuring we’re ready for that future, and staying on track for future success.”

Business

Coronavirus: Crawley businesses urged to check type of loan before borrowing

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Small business owners have been urged to check the type of loan they are signing up to before borrowing against their personal assets, as many have unnecessarily secured personal assets to the future of their business.

Despite the government offering to guarantee interest-free and charge-free loans, which are to be offered by as many as 40 of Britain’s biggest lenders, some banks continue to offer business owners their standard, and more expensive commercial loans, which are secured against their personal property.

Although some banks have said they will stop demanding personal assets, such as property or savings as collateral, the question still remains whether those that have already signed up for this financial help will be able to uncouple their hard-earned assets.

Oliver King, an associate solicitor in corporate law at Langleys Solicitors, said:

“Businesses that quickly found themselves in trouble, due to the current economic situation, may have already taken out loans, and have been obliged to provide additional security and personal guarantees by lenders, which could come back to bite them at a later date.

“Following pressure from the Institute of Directors to stop this practice, we urge the banks that have taken personal guarantees to do the honourable thing and waive the guarantees, rather than punish already hard-pressed SMEs.

“This would need to be a voluntary act by the banks, and one that continues on the current wave of goodwill we have seen in recent weeks, to avoid punishing SMEs further down the line.

“It remains to be seen whether, as the Treasury has indicated they expect, all of the lenders on the scheme to drop the requirement or not.

“There have also been calls for a similar scheme to be opened up to smaller, challenger banks that specialise in lending to SMEs, making them agile enough to make swift decisions, something which is certainly required in the present climate. As well as separate calls to open up the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to all businesses with turnover of less than £45m, as opposed to just those businesses that cannot access other loans.”

“It is essential that any small business looking to benefit from the government’s support programme looks into the details of the loan scheme being offered by any lender, extremely carefully. If directors are in any doubt then they should take immediate legal advice on the implications of the terms being offered to them.

Greater adoption of video call facilities

“Further to this, we may see a development in the way high street banks deal with legal advice. Any individual providing security or a guarantee on behalf of a third party, must obtain independent legal advice on the form, content and effect before proceeding. This absolute requirement is almost never waived, and is done to ensure that the guarantor is under no undue influence or duress to provide the guarantee.

“Previously at high street lenders this has been obliged to be done via a face-to-face meeting. However, in recent years, challenger banks and forward-thinking lenders have permitted this advice to be provided via a video conference call, something which the larger, high street banks have not yet adopted. Although I expect high street banks to miraculously now realise that this can be carried out over the telephone or on a video call and update their practices.”

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