Masters to staff: "This isn't the news we hoped for"
Here's how the news of Masters demise went out to its 7000-strong workforce.
I have news about the future of Masters, but I'm sorry to say it is not the news we have all been hoping for.
Despite our considerable efforts to find a new owner for Masters, the sale process has concluded with no active bids for the business as a whole, so the decision has been made to close Masters.
All stores will remain open for 12-14 weeks, with the exact closing date yet to be finalised.
This is a deeply disappointing outcome, especially given the optimism and energy that all of you have poured into Masters since Woolworths announced its decision to exit Home Improvement in January.
Everyone has given their all and our results have stunned all observers - we must remember this and hold our heads high.
But I'm afraid that in the final round of bids, the only parties remaining were those interested in our properties, not our business.
As I am sending you this email, this news is being read - and broadcast - from a release sent to the Australian Stock Exchange. If it hasn't appeared as breaking news on your phone yet, it will any minute now.
So what happens next?
Most importantly, we need to look after each other. In fact, from today, our core focus is your wellbeing and your future prospects. To be clear, this is an orderly exit, not a liquidation, so your benefits are not at risk.
I'm sure you are going to have plenty of questions, but let me start with the three things that are likely to be on most people's minds:
1. How quickly will this happen?
All stores will remain open for around 12-14 weeks. We will be trading like never before to clear stock, so there is still plenty to do. We anticipate huge increases in traffic and trade in our stores, so we anticipate needing the majority of the store team right through to closing date. In Support Office we will need to adapt to the changes in volume and streams of work, so the support team is likely to start changing before store closure date.
Starting tomorrow (Thursday), independent stock consultants will join us to help us plan next steps. As these plans firm up, it will become clearer what level of support the business will need and what your involvement is likely to be.
2. Will I get all my entitlements?
Be assured that no matter what part of Masters you work in, your entitlements remain intact.
- If you stay within the Woolworths Group, your entitlements will transfer.
- If you leave the Woolworths Group once your current role is no longer required, you will be paid your retrenchment entitlements.
- If you decide to resign while your role is still needed, I am afraid this will be treated as a normal resignation and we will be unable to offer you a retrenchment payment.
3. Will I receive help in finding a new job?
Let me start by saying that while I can't guarantee you will find something that suits you within the Woolworths Group, I can guarantee that placing people from Masters within another Woolworths business is a priority. Each of us will have our own circumstances, so you will be offered one-on-one support in managing through this transition and in seeking a new job, by both your Line Manager and an Employee Support Advisor who will be based in your store or office. Importantly, they will be there to help you find a new job either within Woolworths or at another retailer.
1. We will trade for another 12-14 weeks.
2. Everyone will receive their relevant entitlements when they leave.
3. We will provide everyone support to help you find a new job.
That's the practical side. But looking after each other goes well beyond practical needs.
As I said earlier, this is disappointing news and it will take some time to sink in.
It will affect some of us more deeply than others and we all need to be aware of how our workmates are coping. Starting soon, in every store and in our Support Office, an Employee Support Advisor will also be there to offer you and your Line Manager the support you might need.
There is a lot of detail around how the business will run through to closure, but I won't ask you to absorb that right now.
Today, we all need to let each other get our heads around this news. It's a shock to everyone, even your manager. Talk about it with your workmates and feel free to take the time to get in touch with your family and friends.
Follow this link to key questions that might be top of mind - please take a look.
Of course, you are likely to have questions beyond those answered here, but it might take a couple of days to get every detail covered.
We are giving your Line Manager access to further information to help make sure everyone understands this news and how it affects them.
Today is a sad day.
It probably won't be improved by the way it's reported in the media.
The truth is simple.