Warehouse advert sparks jobs fear

An aerial view of Sports Direct's distribution centre in Wigan
An aerial view of Sports Direct's distribution centre in Wigan

Worried Wiganers working for retail giant Sports Direct have spoken of their job fears after its distribution centre was offered for rent online.

Dozens of jobs are potentially at risk after the beleaguered retailer an advert for the Challenge Way warehouse appeared on property website Rightmove.

Employees have also claimed that a statement has appeared online concerning the Wigan depot, although attempts by this newspaper to find this were unsuccessful and its exact contents were not clear.

Workers say they have received almost no communication from management about the distribution centre’s future, though rumours on site suggest it could be gone by the end of this year.

One employee, who asked not to be identified, said: “We heard a whisper yesterday that they were going to move so we went on Rightmove and noticed the site is up for rent.

“They’ve not said anything at all but a rumour going round says that it will be before Christmas.

“Everybody is basically wondering what is going on and that will be the case until they come out with a statement.

“Knowing Sports Direct they will come out with it about a week or two before it closes. We all know what they are like.

“People are concerned for their jobs. There’s not much work knocking about right now.”

The cut-price retailer has recently come under fire for its practices and the way staff are treated, with MPs heavily criticising the firm and comparing it to a Victorian workhouse.

A report published by the influential House of Commons’ business select committee found serious problems with pay structures, allowances for time off, failure to follow health and safety legislation and degrading treatment of employees, with one agency supplying workers to Sports Direct on temporary contracts coming in for particular criticism.

The controversy has affected the business with plunging share prices in the wake of revelations about what working at Sports Direct is like.

The advert on Rightmove states the 360,000sq ft warehouse is being offered for rent for Manchester-based agent CBRE, who represented Sports Direct in 2014 when the centre was sold to property investment consultants Franck Steier Price (FSP).

The company has since been leasing the distribution centre from FSP, with the two parties originally agreeing a 10-year deal.

The centre on the Martland Park estate, home to the likes of Heinz and JJB Sports, is made up of a 346,526 sq ft distribution facility, offices, two yards and car parking.

Sports Direct were approached but were unavailable for comment.