Planned redundancies which could see around 100 East Lancashire workers lose their jobs have left staff at a major business ‘heartbroken’.

Staff have been told there will be job losses at the Studio Retail base in Accrington, with the announcement made by email on Thursday, October 12.

Some despondent staff stayed at home and refused to come into work after being told the shock news this week.

Staff said they had been told of plans to relocate the business to Derbyshire, nearly 100 miles away, making it nigh on impossible for them to keep their jobs unless they uproot their lives and move to the East Midlands.

Studio Retail, formerly Express Gifts, is a digital retailer with around 1.8 million customers which sells branded clothing and home product ranges. 

Former Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley's Frasers Group, which had acquired the company confirmed there would be redundancies and around 100 staff were under consultation, but would not comment any further.

Meanwhile, staff said the figure was a lot higher. An e-mail sent to staff confirmed the consultation process.

The e-mail said: “To improve operational efficiency, a proposal, subject to consultation, has been made to relocate the Customer Services operation from our existing Clayton-Le-Moors office to the Shirebrook office, and the Studio Customer Services Contact Centre in Clayton-Le-Moor will cease.

“On Thursday, October 12, our colleagues who are directly impacted by this announcement were briefed on the proposes changes and in the coming days will be contacted to explain  what this means for them and their roles in more detail.”

The e-mail says it will be working with the USDAW union to ‘support colleagues throughout this process’.

An employee said fellow staff were told of the plans at a meeting on Thursday afternoon.

The woman, who asked not to be named, said: “It was a huge shock.

"There were no warnings and people are so unhappy that quite a lot did not even turn up for work on Friday.

“People have been here for a long time and it is like a big family and we all have friends.

“I have enjoyed working here during my time and there are people who have been here for many years.

“We learned the jobs are going to be relocated to Derbyshire. Who is going to travel two/three hours to work? I am just so sad.”

Workers will be made redundant on November 26, just one month before Christmas, staff said.  Frasers Group would not confirm this date.

Another employee said she had learned of the bad news on Friday with people in the customer service section those affected.

She said: “It is so shocking. We have just been told out of the blue. It was so abrupt.

“They said relocate. But how can we? 

“I am owed 100 hours and there are other people who are owed up to 400 hours. We have no confirmation whether we will be paid this.

“They just say they can’t confirm anything. We have just been left in limbo and are not getting any straight answers.

“We were working really hard ahead of the Christmas period; I think they just used us.”

Sara Britcliffe MP Said: “I am deeply concerned about these reports and am making urgent enquiries to understand their veracity.

“I will do my upmost to find out what is going on and provide clarity to those employees who undoubtedly must be worried right now - they are my priority.”

In February of 2022, the company had to call in administrators after a £25 million funding bid failed. The company was then purchased by Frasers Group for £26.8 million. 

After buying out Hyndburn’s Studio Retail Ltd last year, Frasers purchased the 76k sqft office property in Clayton-le-Moors which was used for Studio Retail's administrative and operational functions.

The office sits alongside the flagship warehouse in Church, which was also acquired by Frasers as part of the initial agreement.

There had been rumours last year of the offices being shut and moved to Trafford in Manchester, but this never materialised.

Frasers Group is one of Europe's leading retailers, providing consumers with access to the world's best sports, premium and luxury brands.

The Group is made up of Sports Direct, FLANNELS, House of Fraser, Jack Wills and Evans Cycles, among others.