Arcadia collapse: Threat to Bishop's Stortford branches of Dorothy Perkins and Burton
The future of a Bishop's Stortford women's fashion and menswear shop and its staff hangs in the balance.
The branch of Dorothy Perkins and Burton in South Street is part of Sir Philip Green's Arcadia empire, teetering on the brink of collapse.
The group also owns Evans, Miss Selfridge, Topman, Topshop, Wallis and out-of-town chain Outfit, totalling more than 2,500 outlets in the UK.
If it enters administration, commentators predict that its brands will be bought up but some stores will inevitably close. Dorothy Perkins and Burton were both founded more than a century ago.
Retail trade union Usdaw is calling on the group's management to engage in talks to try to save up to 13,000 jobs and ensure staff are treated fairly. It also wants the Government to come up with an urgent recovery plan for the entire retail industry.
Dave Gill, Usdaw national officer, said: "This is a devastating blow for workers at Arcadia and could not have come at a worse time, just before Christmas.
"We are seeking urgent meetings with management and we urge them to end their long-standing anti-union stance and engage with us. In the meantime, we're providing our members with the support and advice they need at this difficult time.
"2020 has been a terrible year for the high street, with more than 125,000 retail jobs lost and over 13,000 shops permanently shut. Retail job losses and store closures are absolutely devastating and lay bare the scale of the challenge the industry faces. Each one of those job losses is a personal tragedy for the individual worker and store closures are scarring our high streets and communities.
"What retail needs is a tripartite approach of unions, employers and Government working together to develop a recovery plan. We have long called for an industrial strategy for retail to help a sector that was already struggling before the coronavirus emergency.
"The Government needs to level the playing field on taxation between online and the high street, reform business rates that are strangling so many businesses, as well as enabling councils to breathe new life into town centres and make them community hubs.
"We have a choice here. Do we want to see the high street go to the wall, or do we want to save it?
"Retail is an important feature of our towns and cities, it employs three million people across the UK, and we need a recovery plan to get the industry back on its feet."