Fears for jobs at Alworths

THE closed signs could soon be going up once again in Forfar’s Castle Street with the news that Alworths, which rose from the ashes of Woolworths, has gone into administration, writes Janet Thomson.

Staff were informed last week that an administrator had been appointed for the business, as the stock began to dwindle on the store’s shelves.

Although unable to comment, they directed press enquiries to an e-mail address but a request for clarification on the subject was returned on Thursday, un-read.

Signs at the shops’ tills informed customers: “Neil A. Bennett and Michael C. Healy were appointed joint administrators of Alworths Ltd. (the company) on March 28, 2011, in accordance with Schedule B1 of the Insolvency Act, 1986.

“The affairs, business and property of the company are being managed by the joint administrators who act as agents of the company without personal liability.

“Goods purchases after March 28 will not be subject to return. Therefore strictly no refunds will be available to customers.”

The news that their jobs could be under threat has come as another body blow for the 13 members of staff, many of whom were made redundant by Woolworths and then by Pound-Mart, which opened in the former Woolworths store in September, 2009.

However, that store was only open until April 2010 before it, too, closed its doors.

The opening of the Alworths store on June 18 last year, their second store in Scotland, was hailed as a great community event, allaying fears that Forfar was to be left with a large, town-centre shop unoccupied at the same time as the nearby Royal Hotel closed its doors.

Commenting on the news Mrs Isobel Ross, chairman of Forfar Community Council said: “It’s very sad and is another blow for Castle Street

“I thought we were on the up and up and feel desperately sorry for the staff, some who have been made redundant twice.

“I just hope they can keep it going until a buyer is found.

“When the store opened last year it was such a relief and we considered ourselves lucky the store hadn’t been empty that long, compared to some places.

“But here we are again. Hopefully good will come out of it.”

The news followed the announcements the previous week of two major investments being made in the town - by Tayfield Investments at Troopers Bar and by The Caravan Club at the Lochside Caravan Park.

Mrs Ross added: “I am pleased people are investing in Forfar - Troopers, Asda and Greggs - and feel we are beginning to weather the storm not too badly.”

Despite repeated attempts, the Dispatch and Herald was unable to obtain a comment from Alworths or the administrators at the time of going to press on Tuesday.