The property franchise company Belvoir Lettings has laid off 15 workers from its Grantham headquarters - and warns there may be more to come.
This happened last week: anonymous emails had been circulating in the industry for some days saying Belvoir was getting rid of staff - one was sent to Estate Agent Today.
One such email, quoted in the Grantham Journal at the weekend, says of the company: "Profit before people. No effort whatsoever to save people, just get rid based on spreadsheet predictions. They are profitable and have experienced no losses. Livelihoods have been ruined needlessly and prematurely.”
Dorian Gonsalves, chief executive of Belvoir Lettings, has now told the publication: "Centrally, as a franchise business, we directly employ at any given time between 120 and 150 people and around half are employed within the Grantham area.
“This includes employees within our franchise support team, general administration and finance, legal administration, HR, mortgage advisers, and direct lettings and estate agency by means of centrally owned high street offices.
"As a franchise network, there are over 2,000 people employed by the franchisor or employed by franchisees, and we have invested heavily in Grantham, which is our home town, in recent years.
"On Monday of this week I reviewed all roles that have been created within the last two years and, as a result, I made the difficult decision to terminate 11 employment contracts within our central office team … as well as four further contracts across other departments.
"As a business which has grown every year for the last 24 years it’s heart-breaking to be in a position where we’re being forced to reduce our costs. Unfortunately, we didn’t qualify for certain measures introduced by the government which were intended to help retail businesses, such as business rates relief, as our premises are not classed as shops.
"A full review of roles across our subsidiaries is ongoing and I expect that a further modest reduction in staff numbers will follow in the coming weeks, however it’s unlikely that any further jobs will be lost in Grantham, although it’s very difficult to predict the exact size and scale of the downturn we’re facing.
"I will attempt to re-employ some of these people dependent on the length and depth of this downturn. All staff who are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 have already been given the ability to work from home."