MFI workers claim they are owed thousands

Frustrated kitchen, bedroom and bathroom fitters for furniture retailer MFI held a protest in Norwich today amid claims the company has failed to pay them for six weeks.

Lucy Bolton

Frustrated kitchen, bedroom and bathroom fitters for furniture retailer MFI held a protest in Norwich today amid claims the company has failed to pay them for six weeks.

Around 40 Norfolk-based fitters for the firm, which was last week placed into administration, claim thousands of pounds is owed for labour and parts.

Today, several of them gathered outside the firm's Norwich store to try and highlight their case.

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Letters of assurance from the managing director were sent to the workers asking them to be patient, but since the company went into administration, the fitters have heard nothing.

Gary Harmer, 44, says he is owed £9,000 by the firm.

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The father of Luke, six, and step-father of Leanne Collins, 20, is worried about how he will afford to pay for Christmas presents for his family, which include wife Melanie.

The bathroom fitter from Oulton Broad said: “I have worked for them for six years.

“I haven't been paid since the end of October and carried on working because we kept getting letters saying bear with us, we would get paid.

“Now they've gone into administration we've heard nothing.”

The Cromer branch in Holt Road closed about four weeks ago and now the others, in Barker Street, Norwich and in Gapton Hall Road in Yarmouth are selling off their last lot of stock and are due to close shortly.

Mr Harmer claims the shop staff have continued to be paid and said all the fitters are owed for labour and parts as they are only supplied with the bare minimum for bathrooms or kitchens with the individual fitters having to pay out of their own cash for things like grout, waste and copper pipes, tile adhesive, plaster and plaster board.

He added: “There are some people who are now so out of pocket they couldn't even afford to drive to the protest today.

“One lad can't afford to pay for the tax on his car.”

Father-of-two Andy Smith, 46, has worked for the Norwich and Cromer MFI branches for 13 years and said he is worried he will now lose his house in Bernham Road, Hellesdon.

He said: “The last time I was paid was August and that's when work started to dry out. I've started doing other jobs but am owed £2,500 by them and I'm running a huge overdraft.”

Mr Smith said the company has had problems before and been promised payment - which has always happened, but all the fitters are worried the lack of communication and the movement of the company into administration will mean they will not get their overdue cash.

John Lodge, a 59-year-old father-of-two from Rockland All Saints, near Attleborough, who is owed about £2,500, said: “I have been working for the company since 1978. My last payment was on November 3 and I have had all the letters, like everyone else, promising payments.

“The thing is I do not know who we are working for as our admin department went into administration on October 6. We are going to get legal advice but sadly many of us cannot afford to. It comes at the end of a really bad year.”

No one at MFI or its administrators Kroll was available to comment.

Are you customer of MFI who has not received a kitchen or bathroom? Call Lucy Bolton on 01603 772429.

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