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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 December 2005, 16:04 GMT
Unwins staff face eviction threat
Wine bottles
Many Unwins staff lived in flats above their shop
Hundreds of former staff living above branches of the failed off-licence chain Unwins face a battle to find a new home and get paid.

About 1,400 workers were laid off earlier this week as administrators KPMG closed all 350 Unwins outlets.

As most shops came with flats, staff tenants now face eviction and are uncertain whether they will get their December pay or any redundancy money.

KPMG said its first priority was to find buyers for the company's assets.

"We have had some serious offers and talks are ongoing," said a spokesman.

"We want to raise as much money as possible for creditors, which includes those owed money as employees."

He said that at the moment there "was no money" and staff should not expect to get their next month's pay, due on 29 December.

"The shop is their home"

Even if money were raised from a sale of assets, staff - as unsecured creditors - "would not be at the head of the queue", he said.

The Usdaw union is calling for former Unwins tenants to be given as much time as possible to find alternative accommodation.

"When a factory shuts down, people can still go home. For many Unwins staff, the shop is their home," said media officer Paul Clarke.

Nikki Orr, a former manager of Unwins' Lingfield branch in Surrey, has lived above her store for the last four-and-a-half years.

She has not heard anything from the company since receiving an e-mail last Tuesday telling her how to deal with creditors turning up at her store.

"I am resigned to the fact that I will be homeless, but how do they expect us to find somewhere to live if we have not been paid and don't get any redundancy money," she said.

She says she is owed more than 2,000 in salary and redundancy payments.

Hundreds laid off as Unwins folds
20 Dec 05 |  Business
Administrators come in at Unwins
19 Dec 05 |  Business
Unwins off-licences near collapse
15 Dec 05 |  Business
Private equity firm buys Unwins
07 Mar 05 |  Business

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