ALMOST 30 jobs could be lost in the Mid Ulster area after the Peacock Group, which runs two stores locally, announced it is to go into administration.
The announcement, made earlier this week, was said to have come as a shock to the 17 staff employed in the Cookstown store and 11 workers in the Magherafelt shop.
The group’s PR firm released a statement explaining that “restructuring” talks around the company’s £240m debts had been ongoing “for some time” but failure to reach agreement meant they would move to appoint an administrator.
The two local stores, in Orritor Road in Cookstown and Market Street in Magherafelt, make up 27 outlets in total across Northern Ireland.
Staff at the local shops, who work mainly on a part-time basis, said they had known nothing of the company’s financial difficulties until they saw and read about the announcement on Monday. While it was expected officials from the company’s headquarters would contact staff on Tuesday, staff confirmed that no-one had been in touch by that evening.
A statement from the company said, “The Board of The Peacock Group and its advisers have been discussing for some time the restructuring of the business with the Group’s lenders.
“Unfortunately these talks have now concluded and no agreement has been reached. However, discussions with other potential investors are on-going. To protect the business whilst discussions
with such investors are progressed, the Directors of The Peacock Group have filed a notice of Intention to Appoint an Administrator. Existing management remain in place as an administrator has not been appointed.”
Local councillor Trevor Wilson said the news, which comes just a week after Coagh manufacturing company CNC Components went into administration with the loss of up to 50 jobs, is devastating for the area.
“This is more bad news for the entire Mid Ulster area,” said Mr Wilson. “I would hope that some sort of rescue package can be agreed on this. It appears also that communication has been somewhat lacking throughout this whole episode. If the first staff knew about the announcement was seeing it on the news then there is something seriously wrong. It is disappointing that such a large company, while under pressure, couldn’t see fit to inform their workforce before the announcement was made to the wider media.”