Cattles staff face axe as outlets shut

DEBT-LADEN doorstep lender Cattles is preparing to wield the axe over 500 jobs, following the firm&rsquo;s decision to shut 30 of its 180 Welcome Financial outlets.<br /><br />Cattles, which has &pound;2.4bn of debts, said it plans to make cuts in its sales and support teams and has told 510 employees of the Welcome business that they may be facing redundancy.<br /><br />In a statement, the lender said: &ldquo;As part of an ongoing comprehensive review of the Welcome business, Cattles proposes the closure of 30 branches where leases have expired or are due to expire and a reduction in the number of its sales and support teams.&rdquo;<br /><br />The lender added that it was still in &ldquo;constructive discussions&rdquo; with its creditors over a standstill agreement on its debt.<br /><br />The group&rsquo;s shares have been suspended since April, following an investigation into the accounting procedures it used to calculate impairment levels, a probe which eventually forced out six directors.<br /><br />A standstill agreement on &pound;1.3bn worth of its debt has already been secured, but Cattles is also looking to strike a similar deal with bondholders over &pound;400m in debt.<br /><br />Cattles, which raised &pound;70m with the sale of its invoice finance arm AnaCap to private equity firm Financial Partners last month, has not yet filed its accounts for 2008, pending a recalculation of its impairment charges.