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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 April, 2005, 13:20 GMT 14:20 UK
Littlewoods axes five Index sites
Littlewoods some of its Welsh Index stores have up to 20 staff
Five Index catalogue stores are to shut in Wales as part of closures across the UK, Littlewoods has confirmed.

The stores are in Bangor, Wrexham, Cardiff, Newport and Swansea.

A spokeswoman could not confirm how many jobs were affected but said staff numbers at each location ranged from "a few up to around 20".

A 90-day consultation period has begun with unions. The retail union Usdaw said staff were "reeling" at the news.

Littlewoods is to cut up to 3,200 jobs under its plans to close 126 of its Index catalogue-based shops.

Retail giant GUS, the parent company of retail chain Argos, has agreed to buy 32 stores from Index, securing up to 800 jobs, but it is not known if any of the Welsh stores are among this number.

Sir Frederick and Sir David Barclay bought the Liverpool-based Index business for 750m in 2002.

Littlewoods said the Index stores, which employs about 4,000 staff, had accumulated losses of more than 100m in their 20-year history.

'Devastating news'

Usdaw said it would be demanding to see the company's business case to find out what other options Index management had considered before the closure decision was taken.

National Officer John Gorle said: "This decision has come completely out of the blue.

"Our members who have contributed to the success of this company have been left reeling and utterly shocked by this devastating news."

"Staff at the 131 stores where there is no buyer, head office workers based in Liverpool and distribution staff at Wednesbury in the West Midlands now face a very uncertain future which is terrible news for them and their families."

Littlewoods said 50% of its 66 stand-alone Index stores would be closed down within the next six months.

A further 93 Index stores that are located inside Littlewoods outlets will be closed, with the floor space retained by Littlewoods.

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