Four in 10 lopped at Wyevale HQ

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The Independent Online

Wyevale Garden Centres said it was sacking its entire 159-strong head-office workforce yesterday, asking them all to reapply for their jobs, but warning that some 66 positions were about to be cut.

The move is part of a head-office restructuring programme through which it hopes to generate annual cost savings of £1.5m. The group is to split its headquarters across two locations, opening a commercial centre in west London to manage its marketing, buying and retail functions. Wyevale's current head office will service finance department and IT operations.

The group said yesterday that the buying director, Glyn Price, also would be leaving the company.

Jim Hodkinson, the new chairman, said: "This is a difficult but necessary decision ... We are operating in a very competitive and challenging retail environment and this will help us deliver a better and more competitive service to customers whilst keeping a tight control on our cost base."

The restructure comes less than three weeks after the upheaval at the annual general meeting, where Laxey Partners, a rebel shareholder, evicted David Williams, the former chairman, as well as two other non-executive directors, Andrew Lewis-Pratt and Dianne Thompson. Laxey also appointed Robert Ware, a property company director, to the board.

However, later the same day, the old Wyevale board announced it had convinced Mr Hodkinson, formerly of New Look and B&Q, to be the new non-executive chair.

Shares in the company fell 4p to 488p yesterday, giving the company a market value of £271m.