Workers have condemned the relocation of a national distribution centre for the department store Fortnum and Mason.

The company that runs the site at the Elean Business Park, in Sutton, confirmed its operations supporting the luxury brand are moving to larger premises in Corby, Northamptonshire, earlier this month.

In an email sent to staff, iForce said it was working to mitigate redundancies by exploring “redeployment opportunities” across the company.

But insiders have told the Ely Standard  less than 10 of the almost 90 people employed at the site have agreed to relocate so far.

According to one warehouse colleague who wished to remain anonymous, iForce bosses knew about the decision to relocate six months before staff were eventually informed.

They said: “We had no idea it was coming this soon, and the first I knew about the decision was when HR got in contact to inform me that an announcement had been made.

“I’m a parent with a young child and it just simply isn’t cost-effective for me to drive an additional 60 miles to Corby, so now I’m forced to find a new job which is going to have a huge financial impact on my family.”

As well as emotional and financial distress, insiders claim iForce has offered no support for staff searching for alternative employment.

A warehouse team lead told the Ely Standard they’d received no communication from the firm about the next stages following redundancy.

They said: “We’ve got six weeks until the site closes and there’s been no sign yet of any support to help us find another job.

It’s also been claimed that those being redeployed to the Northamptonshire site will be forced to accept reduced pay.

One shift supervisor who asked to remain anonymous said: “The biggest issue staff have is that they were told salaries wouldn’t change during the first consultation. But during a second meeting, the company confirmed that salaries will in-fact go down.

“The basic salary of a supervisor will drop by just over £3,000, and a shift manager will lose around £7,000 per year. Financially, this will have a huge impact on people and could have been the deciding factor for those who chose to accept redundancy.

“This is a workforce that put itself in danger during the pandemic to keep the site going. We were starting shifts half an hour earlier and finishing half an hour later and now many are forced into a desperate choice of either accepting redundancy or lower pay.”

The iForce website explains it provides Fortnum and Mason with a “national distribution centre for store, wholesale and global e-commerce orders” at Sutton, near Ely.

As well as picking and packing products for the luxury brand’s stores in Piccadilly, St Pancras, and Heathrow throughout the year, iForce supports the packing of more than 175,000 Christmas hampers.

A spokesperson for iForce reiterated: “Fortnum and Mason have experienced significant growth over the past five years.  

“Due to this continued success and the associated increase in operational requirements, it has become necessary to relocate the Fortnum and Mason operations to larger premises, suitable to accommodate this growth and optimise operations.  

“Fortnum and Mason has expressed their gratitude for the commitment and dedication that iForce employees have contributed to their success, and as such, they are committed to working with iForce into the future at the new location, ensuring that opportunities for the workforce are available.”