Garden centre staff left jobless

LOYAL employees of a chain of North Somerset garden centres have been left jobless and out of pocket just days before Christmas after the company went into administration.

Staff employed by Wheatfields Park Ltd were told on Friday the business, which owns two Roundtrees Garden Centres in Clevedon Road, Tickenham, and Smallway, Congresbury, along with Blagdon Water Gardens, had gone into administration.

This resulted from a supplier to the garden centres issuing a winding up petition to the company.

As a result, 33 out of the 40 staff members were made redundant immediately.

Since October, employees of Wheatfields Park have only been paid 10 per cent of their monthly salary each week, leaving them hundreds of pounds down.

Before the company went into administration, one disgruntled employee contacted the Times about unpaid wages. They said: “The company has been struggling for about a year - now the staff are suffering.

“People can’t afford their mortgages and are getting in huge debts – all this just before Christmas.”

Most Read

Following Friday’s news, they added: “It looks like a lot of people will be having a rubbish Christmas this year.

“We don’t expect to get any wages or redundancy money until the new year, after we have filled out numerous forms.”

Another former employee said: “They have taken us for a ride.

“They have been paying us 10 per cent of our monthly salary per week, which has been really hard.

“We tried to stand by them and be loyal.”

Wheatfields Park is now in the hands of administrators Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), which is seeking a buyer for the site in Blagdon as well as a piece of land the company owns in Churchill and a holiday lodge park in Devon. The Congresbury and Tickenham businesses will be shut following closing down sales.

At the Congresbury site, the separately-run companies of Heather’s Coffee Shop, Mendip Conservatories and the butterfly house will remain open. The coffee shop can now be accessed through the conservatory business entrance.

The administrators will work with former employees to make sure they can make claims for redundancy and compensatory payments.

Ross Connock, joint administrator and director at PwC, said: “Both sides of the business were effectively reliant upon disposable income and have been affected by the difficult economic environment. This led to the business experiencing financial difficulties.”