Shock as Kirkby firm axes 60 jobs

STUNNED ex-employees have spoken of their shock at how a company group suddenly axed dozens of jobs weeks before Christmas.

Former staff members of Fundsport Ltd and French 4 Schools, run by the Kirkby-based Fundsport group, said their demise had been a ‘big shock’.

Both firms went into voluntary liquidation last week after 57 staff were let go in November without warning, with some still owed pay.

Four other employees of a third firm in the group which is still trading, Cornerstone Consulting Solutions, were also laid off.

Director of all three firms Mark Craddock said employees would get the money owed to them.

Staff were let go without notice as bosses had been ‘trying everything’ to keep the firms going up until the decision, he added.

Fundsport and French 4 Schools provided specialist sports coaching and language sessions for dozens of schools around the area.

One Fundsport employee, who asked not to be named, said the firm’s staff were called in on 18th November.

“I think there’s an amount of anger among staff. There was a lack of notice of what was going to happen,” they said.

“We were very disappointed. People have put an awful lot of hard work in.”

In August some staff were told a month’s pay would have to be broken up into 10 instalments amid financial problems.

“This was a big shock because things seemed to have improved since August,” added the staff member.

“To lose your job with no prior warning was a bad day for us all.

“Hopefully we’ll get back money we’re owed.”

Mr Craddock said the demise of the companies was a ‘sad situation for all’.

“Both companies were trading at a loss,” he said.

“Despite all efforts by the management team to gain new contracts, both companies exhausted all cash reserves and as director I had no alternative but to enter both companies into voluntary liquidation.”

Both companies could only afford to pay 50 per cent of November staff salary, he acknowledged.

“By entering into voluntary liquidation all staff can claim for all money owed to them which should be paid within six weeks,” he said, adding 40 of the job losses were part-time positions.

A creditors’ meeting was held at the Fundsport head office on the Lowmoor Business Park in Kirkby last Tuesday.

CBA Insolvency Practitioners were appointed to handle the voluntary liquidation of Fundsport and French 4 Schools.

Mr Craddock said ‘at least 20’ of the staff had found jobs with the firms’ clients. The group also supplied childcare, with Mr Craddock saying schools took over the firm’s settings and employed all its childcare staff the day after the firm closed.

Mark Battisson, a former multisports coach at Fundsport, said he was still looking for a job.

“To shut the company down there and then leaves everyone in the lurch before Christmas. We were told what was happening on a Friday.”

A third employee, who asked not to be named, said they had since found a new job but some were still without work.

Mr Craddock set up the firm a decade ago after he began running coaching sessions in local schools.

“The current economic climate and Government funding cutbacks seriously affected both companies,” he added.

“Fundsport in particular lost a number of funded projects and was unsuccessful with tenders which it was reliant on in order to continue trading.

“Until recent events we have always traded profitably and always paid staff on time.

“It has hurt me to lose a company after 10 years of very hard work.

“I feel really sad for all the staff, some of whom had been with me for a long time.”