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PC assembler and retailer Evesham.com has made 20 people redundant from their jobs, and has also dropped its freephone customer support line.

The 20 staff have been culled from the production, technical and warehouse sides of the business, but Evesham has five jobs going its sales and customer care departments which are earmarked for a lucky five out of the 20.

In a statement, Evesham said the redundancies would affect less than four per cent of its workforce, and attributed the move to the two tough previous quarters.

The company canned its freephone tech support line at the end of December 2000. For PCs bought from January onwards, the support calls will be charged at a local rate. Evesham will honour its free phone number deal for machines bought before then.

The redundancies were announced last Wednesday, 24 January. But because word got out that the jobs cuts were coming, Evesham said it had been forced to make a formal announcement to staff about the job losses before it could tell all the people directly affected personally.

Carolyn Worth, PA to Evesham's MD, said: "Someone blabbed. So we were forced to tell all the staff, because we couldn't do both [tell individuals and staff] at the same time."

The next day, the remaining staff were told their jobs were safe. In the words of one staff member who's still got their job: "It was too late, the damage had been done. The way it was announced was terrible. The atmosphere in the company's HQ was terrible for the rest of the week with people unable to believe how the whole affair had been handled."

Something else to sap morale at Evesham was that staff didn't get their PRP (profit related pay) bonus in December 2000. This was the first time the bonus hadn't been paid since the scheme was introduced.

An internal Evesham memo said: "As many of you will appreciate the last few months have been particularly quiet in terms of sales. This has been a problem across retail based sales in general and more specifically the computer industry. A combination of this and the higher levels of overheads that we are carrying to ensure that we can cope when things get busier means that we have not made any profit in the first half of the current financial year and thus I regret to say that there will not be an interim payment of PRP in December."

The staff get two bonus payments, one based on half year performance, and a second when the full year accounts have been filed and signed off. The Evesham staff received a bonus in November, because the company had had its best year ever up to 31 May 2000. By December, though, it knew sales would be less than expected. ®

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