Midrand, Jan. 10 -- Concerns over retrenchments have been raised by the South African Commercial Catering and Allied Workers' Union (Saccawu) before the expected merger between the Lewis Group and United Furniture Outlets (UFO). Saccawu will make submissions to the Competition Tribunal today on past retrenchments that have taken place at the Lewis Group since December 2016. Submissions will form part of the hearing on the merger between Lewis Stores and United Furniture Outlets in terms of which Lewis Stores intends to acquire the shares and claims in UFO. When the transaction is concluded Lewis Stores will control UFO. Both Lewis Stores and UFO are retailers of household furniture. The Lewis Group operates through three trading brands, namely, Lewis, Best Home and Electric and Beares, a furniture business Lewis Stores acquired in 2014. UFO, on the other hand, is an independent cash furniture store with a retail footprint of 30 stores. It sells a variety of lounge, bedroom and dining room products throughout South Africa. Following an assessment of the proposed merger, the Competition Commission said the deal was unlikely to raise significant competition concerns. However, Saccawu filed a notice to participate in the merger hearing, saying it was concerned about the effect of the proposed merger on the employees of Lewis Stores. This is because since December 2016, Lewis Stores has been retrenching workers.

Published by HT Digital Content Services with permission from The New Age.