Hundreds of jobs going as closure of Sports Direct warehouse in Wigan revealed

Wigan's economy has suffered a massive blow after it was revealed Sports Direct will be shutting a massive warehouse in the borough with the loss of 300 jobs.

Monday, 15th April 2019, 10:13 am
Updated Monday, 15th April 2019, 5:49 pm
The site on Challenge Way
The site on Challenge Way

The Challenge Way goods packing facility will close on June 13, devastated staff have been told.

Employees told Wigan Today how staff from the retail giant's HR department travelled from the central headquarters in Mansfield to Wigan to deliver the bad news.

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One worker, who asked not to be named, said: "It was a bolt from the blue. No-one had any inkling it was coming. People were in tears, people have taken out mortgages and now they have no jobs.

"It's devastating."

Sports Direct has been approached for comment but is yet to respond.

The company is believed to employ about 300 people at the Wigan site, about half them permanent, the rest agency staff. They mostly work in the warehouse packing Sports Direct goods for distribution across the country.

The decision to to leave Wigan is believed to involve the lease on the building. The company had a 10-year lease taken out in 2014 with an option to end it early after five years which it appears they have chosen to do so.

The worker added: "There was a suggestion that there may be some jobs going at the site in Shirebrook which has been expanded but no-one from Wigan could commute there each day."

Representatives from trade union GMB are in discussion with bosses about redundancy terms, but it is feared that the facility's agency staff will not receive any redundancy money.

However, Wigan MP Lisa Nandy says she is in touch with the firm and will fight to ensure no-one is left in dire financial straits as well as lamenting the loss of such a large employer in the town.

Ms Nandy said: “This is devastating news for hundreds of workers who now face an uncertain future. I have today written to the management of Sports Direct and I am in contact with the GMB trade union.

"My immediate priority is to ensure all staff, including agency workers, receive the pay and redundancy package they are morally entitled to.”

GMB said the closure was a "body blow" for the entire region and accused Sports Direct of being renowned for putting workers second.

Paul McCarthy, GMB Regional Secretary, said: “This closure is another body blow for the North West – caused by a company with a track record of putting profits before people.

“The hard-working, dedicated staff at the warehouse have already been put through the grinder once when the site was run by JJB - and now this.

“GMB will not rest until every member receives the redundancy pay they are legally entitled. Then we will discuss next steps.”

Employees who contacted Wigan Today said some people had been working there for 30 years, previously employed by JJB Sports at the same site.