Harris Scarfe lays off 59 staff, offers referrals to Centrelink

Collapsed retailer Harris Scarfe has made 59 staff redundant in anticipation of its sale to Spotlight Group.

Sixteen support staff members across Melbourne and Adelaide, as well as 43 workers across 23 stores, were told their roles were made redundant as part of a wider restructure of the business required as part of Spotlight’s terms of sale.

Deloitte, which acted as Harris Scarfe’s receiver, expects the sale to be finalised just after Easter. 

“Decisions such as these are never easy, but have been necessary following ongoing, detailed assessments of the structure and resourcing requirements of the business, and with a view to ensuring its sustainability,” a spokesperson for Deloitte told Inside Retail.

The spokesperson also clarified that all employees will be paid entitlements in full. 

However, according to information seen by Inside Retail, the staff were initially told the redundancies were being made due to the current economic conditions and COVID-19 crisis. This was later backtracked to claim the redundancies were part of the sale process. 

And that, while Harris Scarfe will be applying for the Government’s JobKeeper initiative to support remaining staff, those let go on ‘restructuring’ grounds may not be supported under the payment scheme. 

Such staff would be covered under the JobSeeker payment, however, and Harris Scarfe allegedly offered to provide letters to Centrelink on the affected workers’ behalf.

Deloitte have so far been unable to confirm this statement to Inside Retail.

The discount department store entered voluntary administration in late 2019, just one month after being purchased by private equity firm Allegro Funds. During the process 21 stores were shuttered, and over 450 staff were let go.

Spotlight Group have been contacted regarding the redundancies, but did not respond in time for publication. 

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