Page last updated at 12:13 GMT, Thursday, 19 March 2009

Catering supplier axes 320 jobs

At least 320 jobs are to go at distribution centres belonging to a catering supplies company.

Administrators said six King UK centres and other offices in England and one in Wales, were being wound down.

The sites affected are in Rugby, Hemel Hempstead, Cumbernauld, Northampton, Plymouth, Skelmersdale, Birmingham, Medway, Rotherham and Cardiff.

Peter West, who works in Skelmersdale with his wife and son, said all three of them would be losing their jobs.

The 49-year-old, from Ormskirk, west Lancashire, said they learned of the site's 54 job losses from a colleague on Tuesday night, before being officially informed on Wednesday.

He told the BBC that the reality of their situation had yet to fully sink in.

Redundancies at sites afffected
Rugby - 59
Hemel Hempstead - 73
Cardiff - 26
Cumbernauld - 38
Northampton - 32
Plymouth - 11
Skelmersdale - 54
Birmingham - 9
Medway - 9
Rotherham - 9

"It's a strange thing to say but I'm 49-years-old and I've never ever been put in this situation before," said Mr West.

"To be quite honest, I don't think it's even sunk in yet. We don't know what we're going to do, we don't know who to speak to."

King UK was part of the Casper Group, which is being run by administrators from Deloitte.

They took the decision to partly dispose of the business, which supplies a range of consumable and disposable products into the catering, airline and general wholesale sectors.

Daniel Butters, joint administrator, said: "Regrettably it has not been possible to find a buyer for King's contractual business and as a result 320 employees have been made redundant.

"A streamlined workforce has been retained to assist the administrator in the orderly wind-down of the assets held at King's six national distribution centres."

Mr Butters said they would be working with Jobcentre Plus to provide support for all staff and that redundancy payments would be fast tracked.

But Mr West, a lorry driver, said he was still unsure where to turn to find a new job.

"I've looked at various means and various websites and there is nothing at all about at the moment... it's just a minefield out there."

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