AN APPARENT U-turn by sports equipment firm Sports Direct, pulling out of a move to take over the former JJB Sports store on Elgin High Street, has led to the loss of 12 jobs.
The St Giles Centre store initiallyappeared to have been saved from the scrapheap when JJB went bust last year, and administrators said Elgin would be one of four branches to remain open.
Sports Direct representatives claimed it would re-open under the new banner once all of the old JJB stock was sold off, but the plug has now been pulled and the shutters went up on the store for good last week.
Elgin BID manager Gill Neill said the closure was a blow to employees who thought their jobs had been saved.
“I can only go with what I’ve been told but it seems they pulled out very unexpectedly,” said Mrs Neill. “We were all really delighted when we genuinely believed we were one of only a handful getting kept open, but apparently that is not the case.
“It’s really disappointing for the staff involved. The shop was closing then they thought they had been given a lifeline, so to have that pulled from under them is not nice. None of us would like to be put in that position.”
Just two doors down from the former JJB store on High Street, there was the prospect of better news for the staff at DE Shoes.
Managing director Robert Sinclair told ‘The Northern Scot’ this week that the Elgin store is currently under offer as a going concern, which would secure the jobs of all staff.
“Unfortunately, I am unable to say any more than that at this moment in time, but we are very hopeful that the offer will progress through to completion very soon,” he added.
Mr Sinclair said the troubled shoe shop chain in looking to do the same with its other 30 branches in Scotland, which includes Forres, Keith and Buckie.
DE Shoes started a 90-day consultation with staff in January to determine thefuture of the business.
‘For Sale’ signs have been going up at DE Shoes branches this week, and even though the 90-day consultation has not yet expired, Mr Sinclair said the company is looking to sell either the whole business or individual shops as going concerns.
This approach was “the best way to avoid or reduce the need to make redundancies”, he said.
For more on this story see The Northern Scot print version.