SPECIAL REPORT: Oliver Adams staff bought stock with their tips to prop up the dying firm - until their bosses changed the locks

Leigh Coia outside Oliver Adams NNL-170404-160630009
Leigh Coia outside Oliver Adams NNL-170404-160630009

Staff at a once thriving Oliver Adams-owned cafe in Northampton resorted to buying cakes and napkins from their tips in the final days of the doomed company, a waitress there has revealed.

But this week all of the employees of Lawrence’s in St Giles have been left wondering whether they will be able to claim around five weeks of unpaid wages and up to two years of pension contributions after the company went under with no warning.

Leigh Coia outside Oliver Adams NNL-170404-155505009

Leigh Coia outside Oliver Adams NNL-170404-155505009

The employees turned up to work on Friday morning to find a note on the door informing them of its closure.

But former waitress there Leigh Coia, feels the way cafe’s seven employees have been treated is disgraceful, when staff there were even dipping into their own tips to try and keep the place afloat in the final weeks.

“It hadn’t gone through the company it was our own money,” the 25-year-old of Southfields said.

“We bought soft drinks and milkshakes because there wasn’t anything there for the kids. They had stopped delivering them.

“We were only charging them 50p, but we did it for our customers, because we didn’t want to let them down.

“We were buying our own fresh cream, everything. Those girls were just holding the place together.”

Oliver Adams’ debts had become so large, Miss Coia has revealed the staff were even buying napkins themselves in the final few days.

The cafe’ has stood in the centre of St Giles for more than 25 years and used to have an on-site bakery which attracted queues out of the door.

All 150 or so Oliver Adams employees were called to a meeting on Friday to confirm them they had been made redundant.

But managing director Mark Jarvis was not at the summit, which was led by the insolvency practitioners.

Miss Coia believes he should have attended considering the efforts the staff had put in.

“We didn’t get told. We just turned up for work and the doors were closed,” she said.

“It was horrendous, absolutely horrendous.

“The thing is we loved our job as well.

“Some of our regulars have ben going there for 25 years.”

Like many in the company Miss Coia, says she is still owed five weeks worth of wages and has no idea whether money she paid into a pension scheme will be honoured.

She has been paying in £11 a month into the scheme since mid-2015.

Staff have been advised to try and claim anything they are owed through the Government, a process which can take up to 12 weeks.

Until then the young mum-of-two does not know how she will cope.

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