EMBATTLED specialist lender Cattles has warned that another 500 jobs could go as it continues to battle for survival.
The Birstall-based group, which is labouring under debts of £2.4bn and has been hit by accounting irregularities, plans to close 30 of its 180 Welcome Finance consumer loans branches and cut the number of sales and support teams.
Cattles said the proposals – made in response to reduced levels of lending – meant 510 workers had been given notice that they are at risk of redundancy.
It has already closed its Welcome Car Finance car loans business and axed more than 1,000 jobs – partly by closing its office in Hull.
Cattles said it remained in talks with key creditors about a deal that would give it breathing space on the repayment of its debt.
Cattles will now enter into a consultation process with staff affected by the proposals.
The closure of the 30 branches will be at locations where leases have expired or are due to expire, the company added.
Executive chairman Margaret Young said: “These proposed changes are central to Cattles achieving a more cost-efficient business model which mirrors current levels of lending activity.”
Last month the firm sacked six senior bosses over a “breakdown in controls” which resulted in its policies on bad debts being applied incorrectly – blowing a £700m hole in its balance sheet.
This is understood to involve deferring and extending repayment terms on under-performing loans to avoid making a loss provision in the accounts.
Shares in the group were suspended after it delayed its results to resolve the accounting issues.
In July, Cattles’ bankers agreed to extend a £500m facility until the end of the year.
Since then, Cattles has agreed the sale of its invoice finance arm to help generate cash.
It has also closed its Welcome Car Finance car loans business to save cash.
The main Welcome Finance business is still running, but has suspended lending to new customers to conserve funds.