Managers’ bid could see “majority” of Bennetts staff re-hired

The 'vast majority' of Bennetts staff could be re-hired under a bid by managers to buy back the business.

In a move which would also preserve the Bennetts brand, a consortium of directors and senior managers at the electrical retailer are preparing to submit an offer to administrators PKF to take back control of the company.

But the proposal would have to compete against rival bids from what PKF has called a 'significant number of potential buyers'.

Rumours have emerged that national electrical chain Comet could be among the bidders but the company was unable to confirm that last night.

Norwich-based Bennetts was placed in administration last Thursday after being hit by a series of setbacks, including the withdrawal of support by a credit insurer which left it unable to secure orders.

Managing director Mike Jones, who is among those leading the bid, said if successful the bid would see most of the 228 staff made redundant by PKF re-hired - but warned some jobs would be lost.

The bid would also see the majority of the 16 branches continue to trade under the Bennetts name, he added, but a number of loss-making branches would not reopen.

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All stores have been closed since Thursday, with 57 staff retained to fulfil a number of functions, including stock taking.

Mr Jones said the plans would also see all obligations to customers honoured, including orders awaiting delivery and deposits.

The consortium is currently in talks with banks to secure finance for the bid in time for the Wednesday deadline set by PKF.

Mr Jones said: 'If successful our bid would offer continuity in the business in the same format, including the Bennetts name, and the preservation of the maximum number of staff.

'Unfortunately however there will be some redundancies.'

Mr Jones said a number of members of Bennetts staff had offered to put their own money into the bid, which he called a 'measure of the loyalty' in the company, and said all re-hired staff would see their conditions protected under TUPE employment regulations.

Mr Jones added: 'We have spent more than 20 years establishing the Bennetts brand, which has a reputation for offering the lowest prices and good old fashioned service and customer loyalty.

'We know which parts of the business are profitable that we will take with us, and this will improve profitability moving forwards in what is still a tough and challenging retail environment.'

Any customers with queries about their orders are asked to call a helpline on 0845 4582000.