I used to joke that if you lived on the Isle of Wight you either worked for Liz Earle or were a chambermaid (no offence IOW peeps). The company is a huge part of the IOW's being. And the IOW is very small. About 140,000 people. That makes it the size of Bolton. Or, slightly larger than Brighton. Everyone knows everyone.
Earlier today my phone started going into overdrive. People were being laid off. They had cancelled their plans for the huge expansion on the Island and the 500 new jobs that would go with it. Managers were being let go. Liz had been let go. From multiple sources. And when I say sources - I mean friends. I'm not working for the Wall Street Journal folks - I'm under no illusions.
After I had tweeted about what was happening I immediately received a call from their PR Dowal Walker.
'It is categorically untrue that Liz has left the company.'
Fine. I'm more than happy to put something right.
I asked if it was true that she is now contracted for 25 days a year only - and that was mainly for QVC and PR purposes. As far as the Official line: Liz is still on board.
This from their Facebook page earlier this month when the rumours started.
Please be assured that Liz continues to be an integral part of Liz Earle Beauty Co ltd. We are delighted that Liz has retained her involvement since Avon acquired the company in 2010. We hope this clears up any misunderstanding :)"
This is their release to the press regarding the redundancies/cancelled expansion:
'Liz Earle Beauty Co. Limited continues to evolve and contribute to the Island economy.
It is best practice that companies review their organisational design and processes to support their growth plans.
Liz Earle Beauty Co. Limited is currently reviewing the infrastructure to ensure world class resources are in place for future growth expectations. A consolidation of roles, improvement in working processes and effectiveness are key priorities. The business objective is to continue to drive for growth and optimal business performance.
As part of the Organisational Review there is a consultation process underway and is expected to conclude in the next 30 days.'
'A consolidation of roles, improvement in working processes and effectiveness are key priorities.'
Ahem. Laying people off.
I've since been told both Liz and Kim Buckland officially resigned from the Board on 25th September, which is true. Source
So what gives?
It's inevitable that when a smaller company sells out to a huge international conglomerate - Avon - that they will make changes after the initial grace period of promising 'no changes'.
But please: don't treat people like idiots and tell them 'not to talk to anyone'. Especially when it's people losing their livelihood. Its an even bigger insult.