SINGAPORE – Travel retailer DFS Group, which surprised workers at its Scotts Road shop last week by asking them to go immediately, is now offering them help to get another job.

In its first comments on the issue, DFS said on Wednesday (Oct 2) it will work with relevant agencies in the next several months to provide its retrenched staff with support services.

These include outplacement assistance with personalised one-on-one career coaching, job-matching, re-training as well as counselling service to those who need it.

Its move follows criticism from Manpower Minister Josephine Teo last Saturday, when she said DFS Group could have handled the retrenchment exercise better, especially in the way it was communicated to the workers.

In its statement on Wednesday, DFS said that in the past week, it has increased its “engagement and dialogue” with the Manpower Ministry, the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices and the Taskforce for Responsible Retrenchment and Employment Facilitation.

Efforts were also made on Wednesday to inform the workers face-to-face about the support measures available to them, said its spokesman.

He also said workers at its liquor and tobacco concession operations in Changi Airport have been given termination letters and they will leave in June 2020, when DFS officially gives up the concession.

He, however, did not specify the number of workers laid off but said they included employees at T Galleria in Scottswalk and DFS’ shared services centre in Chai Chee. Some at these two places were asked to go immediately while some will leave in the next several months, he added.

The company blamed the layoffs on the tough travel retail market, a situation made worse by the steep losses suffered by its liquor and tobacco concession operations at the airport.

The “workforce reduction exercise” was a difficult decision, but “we remain committed to carrying out this exercise in a fair and sensitive manner. We have in place a series of measures to assist affected staff”, the company said.

The measures, it added, are aligned with the Tripartite Advisory, which sets out what a responsible employer should do in the event of a retrenchment exercise.

Meanwhile, DFS pledges to continue to work closely with the Taskforce for Responsible Retrenchment and Employment Facilitation, Workforce Singapore and external outplacement agencies “to provide support to affected staff in their transition in the next several months”.