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HMV owner responds after ex-staff affected by liquidation of Irish business

By | Published on Tuesday 13 September 2016


HMV owner Hilco has responded to criticism from its former staff in Ireland, whose redundancy payments were further delayed last week when the Irish side of the entertainment retail group was put into liquidation.

As previously reported, when Hilco bought HMV out of administration in 2013, that included the Irish business. A streamlined network of stores was reopened in the country, and HMV-branded sections were introduced into the also Hilco-owned Xtra-vision chain of DVD outlets. But then Xtra-vision was wound down, and earlier this year it was announced that the four standalone HMV shops in Ireland would also close.

Following those closures, affected staff were expecting redundancy and holiday pay last week, but then at the last minute the Irish HMV business was put into liquidation, which stopped any such payments being made. The move meant that the former employees would most likely have to rely on the statutory system that provides some protection for those working for companies that go into liquidation, though that will delay and possibly reduce final payments.

The former employees were unsurprisingly angry about the development. Meanwhile Niall Collins, Jobs Spokesperson for the opposition Fianna Fáil party in Ireland, was quoted by NewsTalk as saying last week: “The closure of the four stores, three in Dublin and one in Limerick, is a terrible blow for the workers and their families. The least the staff could expect was that the company would pay them their redundancy payments. They received written correspondence from the management to say that this would happen”.

He went on: “However, the decision to enter into liquidation today has ended any hope of the former workers getting redundancy payments from the company. The state will now have to step in and provide basic statutory redundancy which, in some cases, may be considerably less than what they would have received if the company had paid them their redundancy. What happened today is nothing short of scandalous. The company made a commitment to their former staff, and simply decided to renege on it”.

But in its response, Hilco insisted that the HMV business in Ireland was put into liquidation last week because its banks demanded payment of debts that the company was unable to meet. “This timing was unforeseen and unfortunately meant employees would have to wait to receive their entitlements”, Hilco said in a statement.

It went on: “As has been said, a liquidator will be appointed which is when employees’ entitlements such as holiday pay and redundancy – that are protected by the state – can be progressed”.

But, it then added: “The directors will fund the amounts due to the 29 employees who are entitled to redundancy – to be paid no later than Wednesday to each employee – so that employees are not beholden to the timing of a liquidator’s appointment”, which seems to say that employees could see some payments directly and much quicker.