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Concern over Internaçionale future

Speculation about the future of value retailer Internaçionale was mounting as Drapers went to press this week, as the previous owner Raj Sehgal said the business was now in the hands of restructuring specialist Jason Granite.

A number of sources, including some former members of staff, claimed that the majority of Internaçionale’s 40 head office staff had been made redundant by Granite in person on Monday. An eyewitness said around six people remained.

The same sources claimed an even larger number of store staff, store managers and area managers have also been let go. Granite, who has been working within the business for the past few weeks, has declined to respond to these claims on the record.

Suppliers and contractors meanwhile were left out of the loop, unable to contact co-owners and company directors including Sehgal and Naresh Abrol, about outstanding debts that one company claimed amounted to a six-figure sum.

Suppliers spoke of fears that their companies could be heavily affected by the fallout, while staff said they were concerned about simply being able to meet their mortgage payments.

According to several sources, since the start of the year bailiffs have entered two Internaçionale stores and either changed the locks – meaning employees have been unable to retrieve personal belongings – or removed stock, fixtures and fittings as a result of unpaid rent. Drapers has seen photographic evidence that shows that in at least one instance this took place in the middle of January.

Drapers contacted Sehgal, Abrol and Granite, who is a former Deutsche bank distressed debt trader. Sehgal said: “You need to speak to Jason Granite – he is now in control of the business.”

He added that he would contact Granite personally to direct him to Drapers, saying he would “give you chapter and verse”.

However, Granite subsequently declined to comment on any of the claims on the record. Abrol said he declined to comment at this time.

Internaçionale entered administration in July last year, but was bought out shortly afterwards in a pre-pack deal that at the time saved 1,550 jobs and all but 18 of its 132 stores.

The new company, Internaçionale UK Limited, was backed by the existing shareholders of former company Internaçionale Retail Limited.

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