Seventy-three employees of 700 Wines and Spirits were laid off yesterday in what the company called a “restructuring exercise”.
The firings affected 53 employees on New Providence and 20 employees on Grand Bahama, according to a statement by Commonwealth Brewery Limited (CBL), which owns the retail liquor operation.
A handful of employees standing outside the 700 Wines and Spirits John F. Kennedy Drive location told The Nassau Guardian yesterday that the terminations came without warning.
They claimed they showed up for work as usual, however, they were called to a meeting where they received termination letters, payment in lieu of notice and met with grief counselors.
However, Ron Hepburn, CBL director of retail, told The Nassau Guardian the meeting was public information.
“It was a planned meeting that was advertised in the newspapers since last week with staff,” Hepburn said.
“I think your paper, we would have [had] a placement in your paper as well, on Thursday, Friday and this morning about the staff meeting.
“So, the staff meeting was known.”
Hepburn added that the positions affected were store representatives and assistant store representatives. Hepburn said the company has created new positions which the affected employees are eligible to apply for.
“…Based on the numbers we got in, the majority of staff reapplied for the positions,” he said.
Hepburn said in the statement that this was the first major exercise of this nature since the company went public and that the decision to restructure was brought on by increased operational costs as well as increased competition from imported beer brands.
“This restructuring exercise is by no means a negative indication of the health of the company, rather, it is a sign of our commitment to continue and thrive in this dynamic business environment,” he said.
“A methodical streamlining decision was made to simultaneously make job roles redundant while creating a new role, affording the impacted employees the opportunity to apply for the newly created positions while being fairly compensated for the loss of their old roles.
“We value all of our staff and we will comply with all laws regarding severance pay as well as, for a period, continue health care coverage for the 73 employees post this exercise.”
Education: Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) 3rd Year