I’m not feeling blue for myself. I am more than capable of self-pity and self-denouncing my worth and skills, though I am working hard against those feelings. No, at the moment I am feeling down and worried for some former colleagues of mine.
In recent weeks, two of my former employers have either collapsed or are in the process of collapsing. I used to work for an office supply chain by the name of Staples, who still exist elsewhere in the world, but not in the UK. The shaky nature of office retail (you can thank online shopping here), combined with Brexit, drove Staples to quit the UK, but their UK stores became a company called Office Outlet. For a while Office Outlet was soldiering on, but a few weeks ago they went into administration and have since closed all their stores. Having spent seven and a half years working in a Staples/Office Outlet store, I forged many lifelong friendships. When you share blood, sweat and tears with people for that long, it’s inevitable that you’ll grow close to at least some of them! Whilst I have no love for Staples as a company (frankly, their UK arm did not treat staff particularly well, and upper management did not live in the real world), I am gutted for the people I worked with. I’ve been in the position of being out of work, it’s a horrid feeling, and a scary one. I wish my colleagues there well, and I hope they recover.
The other employer was Bathstore, who also went into administration recently. They haven’t completely closed – yet – but it seems they too will go completely. The high street is filled with businesses offering bathrooms and installations at competitive prices and Bathstore, I suspect, have been crowded out. I was there for two and a half years, part of a small team of just three. We therefore worked hard for each other and again, I formed lifelong friendships there. The store I worked in was a franchise store, so the manager was also the owner, and I dread to think what he and the other guy there have been feeling as this has all unfolded.
It makes it stop and reflect upon the fragile nature of the economy, and the transitory nature of business. Even companies that have been around for decades are not safe from the downturn. As we slide like an out-of-control train toward the Brexit cliff, I can only hope we can find a way to reverse this trend, so more of my friends don’t face this horrible situation.