Axe hangs over marketing team after Index closure

The marketing department of catalogue retail chain Index is facing the axe following Littlewoods’ plans to close the business and sell off stores to rival Argos.

About 170 staff at Index’s head office are set to lose their jobs. The marketing department accounts for more than 20 of these. Marketing director Mike Makinson and managing director Peter Ahye are among them. They are entering consultation about their future and could be redeployed elsewhere in Littlewoods.

Index has lost money in nearly every year of its 20-year history. Cumulatively, this adds up to more than &£100m of losses. More than 3,000 retail staff are expected to lose their jobs.

Argos is to buy 33 of the 66 standalone Index stores for &£44m, taking on staff in those stores – about 800 people. The stores will be refitted and rebranded as Argos. The remaining 33 standalone stores will be sold and closed over a period of six months. The 93 Index stores operating as concessions within Littlewoods stores will also close, with the space being retained by Littlewoods. Argos is to acquire the Index brand and the website.

The future of Littlewoods is also in doubt. Primark, owned by Associated British Foods, is understood to have teamed up with New Look to mount a joint bid for the department stores. There has also been speculation about an approach by Wal-Mart and a management buy-out. The business is thought to be worth between &£450m and &£500m.

Littlewoods was bought from the Moores family for &£750m in 2002 by Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, who have concentrated on developing the home shopping business.

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