Humberts has denied a local press report suggesting at least five of the firm’s 22 offices had already closed with some staff allegedly owed outstanding wages and commission.
The website of the Marlborough Gazette & Herald ran a story yesterday afternoon claiming staff at the local branch in the town “who still have outstanding wages and commission” were told yesterday morning that the office was due to close in order to make "immediate cost cutting" measures.
Enquiries by Estate Agent Today made to some Humberts branches produced answers saying that some offices may have shut because “a financial restructuring” was underway due to “difficult trading conditions”.
However, Humberts has denied that there have yet been any closures.
But a spokeswoman did claim that at least some branches “are operating with a lower headcount until the future of the business is secured” - jargon for redundancies until a buyer was found.
She added: “No branch has officially closed”; the newspaper later amended its article to remove reference to a closure but did say there had been redundancies at the Marlborough branch and at four other unnamed offices of the firm.
A statement over the weekend released by Ian Westerling, managing director of the firm, blamed “market conditions and pressures on the industry as whole” for the company being in trouble, and suggested that the company was in talks with proposed administrators “with a view to finding a buyer for the profitable parts of the business.”
Those talks are continuing but Westerling also says: “In the meantime, we are making some immediate cost saving measures that will sadly result in some redundancies. We, of course, regret having to do this but we are working hard to secure the future for as many of our employees as we can.”
Chestertons merged with Humberts in 2009 after both companies were reported to have had individual financial difficulties; they demerged in early 2014 with the two separate businesses creating limited companies under the Chesterton Global Ltd umbrella.