Wednesday 1 June 2016 5:26 pm

Austin Reed employees found out about store closures through social media

A day after the heritage retailer Austin Reed shut its shops for good, City A.M has learned that most of the staff found out they had lost their jobs via social media.

An employee at one of the company's major city centre concessions told City A.M: "About 80 per cent of the staff found out about it on social media.

"The staff were absolutely in bits because they were given no warning."

A spokesman at Alix Partners, Austin Reed's administrators said: "Some of the rents were due on the buildings but that's not the reason we closed the stores – we owed every supplier a lot of money.

"We addressed the managers yesterday morning, and there was a communication plan in place. But social media just blows everything out of the water.

Read more: Austin Reed employees could have their pensions bailed out

"We told people: this is delicate and difficult and unfortunate matter, and we'd like people to keep things confidential.

"But if someone decides they are not going to that – there’s nothing we can do. Unfortunately, it was out of our control."

Austin Reed began closing its stores over the bank holiday weekend, when 28 stores were shut. Some of the rents for the stores owned by Austin Reed were due on the 1 June; our source said this was probably why the administrators rushed to close the stores yesterday. 

She said: "They wanted everyone to get out of the stores as quickly as possible. 

"Thousands of pounds of stock was lost because it was absolute chaos."

Nick Hood, business risk adviser for Opus Restructuring, said that while administrators try to keep employees as well informed as possible, it can be difficult.

Read more: Wealthy foreign family named as potential bidder for BHS

He said: "It depends on the particular circumstances, but administrators would normally deliver news to the staff at the same time as the media.

"It would be common sense because you need the staff to be able to send the right message to customers."

The staff at Austin Reed are particularly concerned about finding jobs because they fear BHS may soon go the same way, our source said. 

"There could be around 12,000 people looking for jobs. There aren't that many jobs in retail," she said.