Truscotts senior management ignored staff warnings of collapse

Exclusive by Patrick Avenell

ADELAIDE, SA & SYDNEY, NSW: Truscotts senior management was warned by staff months in advance of their collapse four weeks ago that the group had serious problems, but these complaints and calls to action were either ignored or dismissed by those entrusted to run the business.

In a series of letters received by Current.com.au, Truscotts employees, from floor staff to store managers, vent their frustration at their superiors. Although many different problems are identified and discussed, one theme emerges: everyone complaining thought the company could succeed, if management only cared.

In a letter dated 20 October 2009, the manager of Truscotts Casual Living’s Adelaide City store, Damien Mills, wrote to the group’s stock controller at head office asking for permission to conduct a stock take after hours. The response from Tanya Uppington at head office was blunt: “Go away! We will talk about this after, when we have more staff to get it arranged.”

Three weeks later, on 8 November 2009, this issue would be raised again. In preparation for the busy end-of-year sales season, Truscotts store managers complained to head office that the buying system for stock was outdated and inefficient. Rather than having stores ordering their own stock based on their own needs, Truscotts stock was being centrally ordered. In addition, one person was doing the stock ordering across several categories for up to 12 stores.

The problem got so bad, that in a letter highlighting serious issues with stock levels and stock ordering, management was given a foreboding prediction from one its store staff members.

“My hope is that this company will start projecting a serious and competitive image, with stock in store and advertising that actually works,” wrote Truscotts employee Michael Rogers. “If such things do not occur in the next couple of weeks, I strongly believe this company is headed for liquidation again.”

On Saturday 11 July 2009, when receivers took over Truscotts, Rogers was proven right.

Current.com.au has contacted several senior staff members at Truscotts, including Dr Christopher Starrs and John Protheroe, for comment. We will publish any response that is forthcoming.

This article, in its entirety, including direct and indirect quotations, is the property of the publisher. No reproduction of any part is permitted without prior written approval.

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