Leekes

Staff Bulletin

Latest infomation on behalf of the Board of Directors.


Company Update - 05/06/2020

To the Leekes & Park Furnishers Team,

I am so pleased to let you know that today our Bilston and Park Furnishers stores reopened for the first time since lock-down. We are so pleased that we are finally operating out of all our sites albeit with a very reduced team. I am looking forward to seeing pictures from Tom and the Bilston team and David with his Park team on their first trading day for over 10 weeks.

Sales in our large stores, whilst significantly lower than last year, have been growing as more departments have reopened whilst Tonypandy and our online store have continued to see record sales levels. An enormous thank you to the team who are working and who are all being extremely flexible as we ask them to cover a range of often unfamiliar tasks. We really do appreciate your positive and helpful approach.

I would also like to recognise those of you who are still at home and who are keen to come back to work to help us. We hope that we will continue to see our sales grow which will allow us to welcome more of you back over the next few weeks.

In the meantime, stay safe everyone and continue to look after yourselves and your loved ones.

Best wishes

Emma


Company Update - 11/05/2020

To the Leekes & Park Furnishers Team,

I hope you enjoyed the sunny Bank Holiday weekend and that you are all successfully working your way through those lists of jobs you have been meaning to do for years…...

We have successfully partially reopened our stores in Tonypandy, Llantrisant, Cross Hands and Melksham where, as hardware retailers, we are able to trade part of our cash offer. I would like to thank the teams involved for their support in doing this efficiently and with the safety of our staff and our customers at the forefront of their minds at all times. We have one way systems, sanitising stations, contact free payments and social distancing rules in place which have been extremely positively received. We saw a reasonable level of sales, £320,000 achieved by these stores last week which I am sure will grow as customers become more aware that we are open and more confident to visit. Our website has continued to operate throughout lockdown and is trading significantly ahead of last year as you would expect. There is no indication of any relaxation in guidance covering what we can sell in store and so there are no plans currently to extend our operation here.

At our central warehouse and offices, the warehouse team continues to dispatch online orders and receive in goods, mainly from overseas suppliers and distributers. We have had indications that more UK suppliers have plans to reopen and, in light of yesterday’s announcement, I am confident we will see more coming back by the end of the month. I am delighted to tell you that slowly we have restarted deliveries out to customers with a Llantrisant team starting last week and one team from Park, Melksham and Cross Hands starting this week. The operation is different with the delivery team currently using both the lorry and a second car to ensure the time they spend together is limited, the service is to the door only and we are not able to collect items or remove packaging. Our delivery and online operation is being supported by members of the distribution customer service team who have now been joined in the office by some of the CWD team and Installations team who are starting to book some surveys, installations and service calls. Again we have new operating procedures for our teams and self-employed contractors providing guidance to enable them to work safely. The office looks very different with its own one-way system, new rules around the use of common areas and we are busy producing screens to provide additional protection for when more of you are able to return. As customers become more confident to accept deliveries, home visits and installations and more suppliers reopen, we will start to increase the number of team members returning to work. Finally some members of our support teams of finance, purchase ledger and payroll have been working, remotely where possible, to ensure the business continues to meet its financial requirements and pays our suppliers – and our teams! – accurately and on time.

Whilst levels of business remain low, and our stores are partially closed, we will continue to use the government’s Job Retention Scheme, currently in place until the end of June. As the government guidance changes, we will continue to update you on what this means for our operation and the part you can play in this. In the meantime, stay safe and take care.

Best wishes

Emma


Company Update - 04/05/2020

To the Leekes, Park Furnishers & the Vale Team,

As you are all aware, we have started to partially re-open some areas of our retail stores and some central departments. While most of the team who have been un-furloughed and brought back into work are relieved to be back in work and on full pay, some are understandably concerned about the risk and have raised the question of whether or not they can remain furloughed. I can confirm the following;

1. Working From Home
Where ever possible, we will try and enable people to work from home to remove the need for them to travel and attend work. Clearly, within the retail and hospitality industries this is challenging and the majority of our team will need to be in work to carry out their roles.

2. Vulnerable People
If you fall in the vulnerable category and have received communication from the government advising you to self isolate, please send a copy in to Personnel and your site manager as soon as possible. Where possible, we will try and un-furlough / call other members of the team back into work before you. If we do have work, then you will be able to remain at home on SSP while the lock down continues.

3. You Don’t Want To Return To Work
If you do not want to return to work as you live with a vulnerable person, have childcare issues or you simply don’t want to venture out during the pandemic, then we will support your decision where possible. In normal times, refusal to attend work would be a disciplinary issue, but where we can, we will allow members of the team to remain away from work if they wish to do so. However, if we have work available and you wish to not attend work and want to remain at home, then we cannot keep you on the furlough scheme. The scheme was set up to make a payment only where no work is available for an employee. As such, if you choose to remain absent from work after being advised that work is available, you will be on unpaid leave moving forward. You may be able to take holidays at stages throughout your absence to ensure that you retain some income and you may be eligible for government benefits, depending on your circumstances.

4. You or members of your household have symptoms of Covid-19
If you are in work and you or a member of your household experience symptoms of Covid-19, you need to contact your line manager as soon as possible to advise them of your circumstances. If you have symptoms, then you will need to self isolate for 7 days. If a member of your household has symptoms then you will need to self isolate for 14 days. During the period of self isolation, you will be paid SSP and once the self isolation period has ended or you have recovered from the illness, then you will be able to return to work.

I would like to assure everyone that we have taken sensible precautions to ensure the safety of everyone returning to work and we will continue to adapt the operation in line with government guidance to ensure that our staff, customers and guests are safe.

If you have any queries regarding returning to work, please contact the personnel department via email – [email protected].

Kind regards

Peter


Company Update - 09/04/2020

To the Leekes & Park Furnishers Team,

I hope you are all staying safe and enjoying the sunshine.

Just to let you know of some additional support which may be relevant to a number of our team:

The Furniture Makers’ Company provides welfare support to industry employees and retirees. They are offering support for furniture industry staff affected financially by COVID-19 and further information can be found on the website www.furnituremakers.org.uk

The COVID-19 application form is also attached.

Sue Dean, Welfare Officer, is the best person to talk to for application advice. She will be available via [email protected] or 07366 568 458 from Tuesday.

Happy Easter everyone

Stay safe

Emma


Company Update - 06/04/2020

To the Leekes, Park Furnishers & the Vale Team,

Over the weekend, the government made further clarifications and changes on some elements of the scheme, two of which appear to be very positive;

1. Temporary Alternative Employment
The scheme will allow people who have been furloughed to take on temporary work with a different employer, without losing out on the scheme payment. This is excellent news and will hopefully enable people to top up their earnings during this difficult time. Your contract of employment requires you to gain a director’s approval before taking on additional employment, but I can confirm that during the period you are furloughed, permission automatically given and you do not need to notify the company.

2. Commission Payments
Where previously, commission payments were not covered by the scheme, the government has change the guidance to allow for ‘contractual’ commission to be covered. While we are still waiting for absolute confirmation that our commission schemes will be eligible, I am quite confident that we should be able to make a claim and payments. If we do get agreement, then we will work out the average monthly commission paid over the last 12 months and then apply that, providing the team with 80% of their normal average wage.

These two amendments are clearly welcomed and should provide some more support for you all. HOWEVER, you will only be eligible for this coronavirus payment if you have responded to last Thursday’s email to confirm that you wanted to be included in the scheme. If your response has been received, you will have received a confirmation email in reply, letting you know that your email had been received and confirming your inclusion in the scheme.

I hope that you are all keeping safe and healthy and working hard in your gardens and I hope to see you all back in work in the very near future.

Kind regards,

Peter Martin


Company Update - 03/04/2020

To the Leekes, Park Furnishers & the Vale Team,

On Wednesday afternoon, we sent out a communication to all member of the team who have been furloughed. Emails were posted to all of the payslip email addresses which we have on the system , with an important update on the furlough process. For those members of the team who have not provided us with an email address, a letter has been sent out to your home address. It is extremely important that you carefully read this note and respond to it as quickly as possible. If you have any queries, then please use the [email protected] email address and we will aim to respond within 48 hours.

I hope that you all aren’t getting too bored at home. Stay safe.

Peter Martin


Company Update - 01/04/2020

To the Leekes, Park Furnishers & the Vale Team,

We hope you and your families are all staying safe and well.

We just wanted to update you on some business news which some of you living locally might have seen on social media and in news reports. Yesterday contractors working on behalf of the Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board have started work to convert the indoor arena we built at The Vale Resort, and which is normally used by the WRU as their indoor training facility, into a field hospital providing an additional 290 beds to be used to support the work of the NHS in fighting the covid-19 pandemic.

In addition, the Hensol Castle Distillery has now received accreditation to produce antibacterial hand sanitiser to World Health Authority standard which can be therefore be used in our NHS to provide key workers with additional protection as they care for those affected by the virus.

Everybody – from businesses to individuals – has a responsibility to play their part in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, and we are pleased to be able to do what we can to support those working in the NHS, doing an incredible job under enormous pressure and extremely difficult circumstances.

Please continue to look after yourselves and your families. We will get through this by supporting each other.

Best wishes

Emma and Steve


Company Update - 30/03/2020

Dear Leekes, Park Furnishers & the Vale Team,

I have received a few enquiries regarding how to claim for the furlough payment, so I thought that it would be good to update everyone on the process.

1. You do not have to make a claim or complete any application.
2. The furlough payment will be paid through the normal Leekes / Vale payroll.
3. The pay date will remain as the last Friday of each month.
4. You will receive a payslip in the normal manner, detailing the furlough payment and any tax deductions.

I hope that this clarifies the process, but if you do have any further queries, please email [email protected].

I hope that you are all well and safe.

Kind regards,

Peter Martin


Company Update - 27/03/2020

To the Leekes, Park Furnishers & Vale Teams,

Yesterday, we advised you that you cannot undertaken any other paid work during the period when you have been furloughed by the business and this has been reiterated in the updated government guidance issued last night. I understand that there are a number of temporary opportunities for work, especially in the food sector and some members of staff may be better off financially taking on that temporary work than receiving the government backed 80% basic payment. If this is the case, then in order to support you, we can agree to lay you off without pay on a temporary basis, enabling you to work for another employer during that period of time. This would provide you with protected employment status and length of service with us (ensuring that you have a position to return to once the government restrictions are lifted,) but also allow you to take up the temporary full-time work opportunities that may exist elsewhere. If you want to discuss this further, then please contact [email protected] and we will get back to you to go through the options in more detail.

Kind regards,

Peter Martin


Company Update - 27/03/2020

To the Leekes, Park Furnishers & Vale Teams,

I hope that you and your family are keeping healthy & safe at this time. Last night, the government provided further details on the coronavirus job retention scheme and details can be viewed at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme. We will aim to update those affected directly via their payroll email address, but if you have any immediate concerns, then please email [email protected]. We will continue to monitor the situation as changes are happening on a daily basis and we will continue to keep you updated.

Kind regards,

Peter Martin


Company Update - 26/03/2020

To the Leekes, Park Furnishers & Vale Teams,

In our discussions with our teams we were frequently asked what the position would be if individuals took other work while they were furloughed by our business.

The position has become clearer and the guidance which we have been given indicates that any paid for work is not allowed while an employee is furloughed. Voluntary work is allowed and as a business, we will fully support any member of the team who wishes to give up their spare time to support the NHS and the battle against covid-19. If you wish to take up alternative employment during the period when you have been furloughed by the business, then you need to send in your resignation to [email protected]. In order to support your decision, we will not require any notice if you are absent from work as a furloughed employee. Clearly, we value all of the team and we truly hope that you choose to remain with the business during thee difficult times. While you are furloughed, your employment with Leekes and the Vale is completely protected and we hope that you will remain with us and return to your roles once the government gives us permission to re-open. However, we also recognise that some of you may choose to take on alternative employment to bump up your wages during these difficult times and we will be supportive of each individual and the decision they reach.

Kind regards,

Peter Martin


Company Update - 25/03/2020

To the Leekes, Park Furnishers & Vale teams,

Many of you will notice that your payslip contains a new payment header this month, ‘FURL’. This stands for furlough and it is the amount that the government coronavirus retention scheme is covering in your wages for the month of March, if you have been ‘furloughed’, which most employees now have been. This will enable us to report on the total amount of furlough payments made when the government makes the arrangements for funding to be accessed. You will see a reduction in wages against ‘ABS1’ (absence) countered by the ‘FURL’ payment. This shouldn’t affect your overall pay for the period.

If you have any queries, please email [email protected] in the first place and the payroll team will work through the emails and try to get back to you within 24 hours.

Kind regards,

Peter Martin


Financial Hardship

To Team Leekes

I would like to start by thanking the teams across the business who have pulled together today to help to close down our stores, rearrange deliveries and installations, make payments to our staff, contractors and suppliers, manage the significant increase in web orders and generally support the business as we manage this challenging period together.

In order to support the most financially challenged across our team, last week we announced that we will be putting in place a Hardship Fund for those in the greatest need to access. Please find attached a briefing note from Peter as well as the application form you will need to complete to apply to access this fund.

Financial Hardship Note.pdf Financial Hardship Form.pdf

If you have any further queries, please contact the Head Office HR team on [email protected] who will do what they can to assist you.

Stay safe

Emma


Company Update - 23/03/2020

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement this evening our stores have now all temporarily closed. Anyone due to work in stores tomorrow should contact their line manager to see if you are required to attend work to help close down our operation.

Our head office team has been reduced to essential staff only and so all the remaining team should attend if they feel able to do so. We will put further plans in place tomorrow morning and aim to get everyone home as quickly as possible.

Please all ensure you comply with the government guidance aimed at keeping us safe.

Best wishes to you all

Emma


Company Update - 23/03/2020

By now, like me, I’m sure you’ve grasped the seriousness of the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak and the repercussions it will have upon each and every one of us. I would personally like to thank you again for your support as we continue to make some difficult decisions in order to respond to these challenging and unprecedented times.

Our priority is obviously to maintain the safety and wellbeing of our employees and our customers; and to do this to follow the guidelines recommended by the UK Government in regards to enhanced hygiene and social distancing. As a result, we have taken some very difficult decisions over the last few days which will include the temporary closure of our Park Furnishers store and Leekes Bilston from the end of the day today, Monday 23rd March. Our Leekes stores in Llantrisant, Cross Hands, Melksham and Tonypandy will remain open to provide building, plumbing, decorating and garden supplies until the end of Friday 27th March assuming the government advice does not change. We will continue to encourage customers to order online utilising our delivery partners for as long as we are able.

Our central warehouse and Head Office are still operating currently but on skeleton staff to complete essential tasks only. Our customer deliveries will continue this week, again if government guidance does not change.

On Friday, the government announced a coronavirus job retention scheme to project jobs by paying 80% of staff wages or £2,500 per month, whichever is the lower, through a grant scheme. While we are awaiting full details, this is great news for our teams. This time away from work is termed “furloughing” and it is in place to help companies protect their workforce and avoid job losses. All staff at work today have been spoken with to update them of our plans and how it affects them personally. For many of our team members, this has meant that they have been “furloughed” with immediate effect. Everyone affected who was at work today has been given a letter providing them with more detail. Our HR and management teams are working through the list of staff not at work today to ensure they are also updated with this news and how it affects them. Can I please remind you to keep checking the email address you use for your salary slip (and your spam filter) for updates as we will email you using this address with any changes relevant to you personally.

As a family business, proudly trading for over 120 years, taking the decision to close our doors has been an emotional one. We are a well-capitalised, financially secure business and believe this to be a temporary measure aimed at protecting our loyal staff until the peak of the crisis passes.

Should you have any queries, you should use the HR email address [email protected] and one of the team will get back to you as soon as possible.

Thank you for your support and take all the care necessary to keep you and your loved ones safe.

Emma


Company Update - 22/03/2020

As you may we have heard, the Vale Resort is temporarily closing as the government has closed all restaurants, bars and leisure clubs. The golf courses are staying open and will probably get more use than ever over the coming lock down period. We have contacted all of the team working at The Vale individually to update them on the position and what this means to them and they have been overwhelmingly supportive to our response.

You will have heard that John Lewis has also announced that their stores will close from Monday night and that might trigger a further series of high street closures.

The government announced a coronavirus job retention scheme on Friday to protect jobs by paying up to 80% of staff wages or £2,500 per month, whichever is the lower, through a grant scheme. While details of the grant are still patchy, the intention is clear which is great news for all of our teams. Hopefully, this will provide some much needed financial security during these uncertain times.

The directors have been planning for a series of different scenarios over the weekend and we will be briefing you by Monday afternoon on our planned next steps. We will continue to post on our webpage and workplace so please check here regularly. Also remember if we need to contact you personally we will be doing so through the email you use to receive your pay slip electronically so please check this and your spam.

We will get through this together and the package of support the government is now providing will help enormously.

Stay safe everyone, enjoy Mother’s Day and we will update you further tomorrow.

Emma


Company Update - 20/03/2020

This week has certainly been one of the most unusual in our proud 123 years of trading. We have had to take a series of steps which just a few weeks ago we would never have envisaged being necessary. The response we have received from our loyal teams has been incredible and we are immensely grateful to all of you for the approach you are taking to these changes as we navigate the evolving situation..

The directors and senior managers across Leekes, Park Furnishers and the Vale Resort are all working extremely hard to put in place contingency plans for the business to respond to the varying scenarios we might find ourselves dealing with over the next few weeks and I would like to thank them for their commitment and support at this time.

It is important that we keep communicating throughout the business so please make sure that you are regularly checking this staff page, Leekes workplace app and/or the email address you use for your pay slip (regularly checking spam!) so that we can communicate with you in these ways if necessary.

Finally, and most importantly, please do all you can to ensure you and your families stay safe. Thank you so much for your support, we will get through this together.

Emma


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