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Woolworths staff reunited by new website

Published: 15 April 2009

Former Woolworths senior manager has set up and funded a website dedicated to help ex-Woolies employees keep in touch and even find a new job.

Woolworths staff reunited by new website

Designed to 'provide support and help through the trauma of redundancy', WoolworthsReunited was launched by Paul Seaton just one day after he was made redundant from the high street chain in December.

The original idea for the site was simply to help former employees stay in touch, share news about the company and support each other through a difficult time.

But, explained 48-year old Mr Seaton, by January 7 when the last of the Woolworths stores had closed their doors, the website was advertising more than 5,000 job vacancies.

"I had a very enjoyable and rewarding career with Woolworths for 25 years. It was a great company, who valued people and inspired tremendous loyalty."

He added: "I wanted to put something back. For many, losing Woolies was like losing their family. I can't think of a better way of using the last four months than helping 4,000 friends find a new job."

The idea of putting jobs on the site came about when a former Woolies HR manager, Iain Lewis started asking employers if they had any vacancies and offered to write to people from his address book if WoolworthsReunited could provide space for the company to advertise online.

Mr Seaton said: "The employers were brilliant. As soon as we had a few jobs on the site and firms saw what was possible, it just snowballed."

Woolworths went into administration on November 27, 2008, making 27,000 full and part-time staff redundant. Despite efforts made by administrators Deloitte and JobCentre Plus, most employees received only the minimum statuary redundancy pay from the Insolvency Service and had to go on the dole.

Directors at big plc companies got involved and providing practical help as well as vacancies. According to Mr Seaton, one big competitor made its entire HR team available to support Woolworth's staff through the ordeal, offering coffee and a chat about benefits and retraining, as well as advice about getting another job.

Several companies even laid on special help-lines for staff at their own expense.

Since its launch, 125,000 people have visited WoolworthsReunited and 2,000 ex-Woolies employees have signed up to receive emails from the site. In January alone, Mr Seaton's ex-colleagues visited 144,149 pages. The running total now exceeds a third of a million.

As Mr Seaton proudly concluded, and one has to agree - "Not bad for one chap working on his home computer."


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