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By | Paul Kunert 10th June 2011 10:34

Dragon scoops Expansys into his Marlow den

Staff leap overboard as company goes south

Etailer Expansys has relocated offices from Manchester to Marlow, but unsurprisingly the majority of the staff refused to make the daily 286-mile round trip.

The premises, owned by Dragon's Den bad boy Peter Jones who is non-exec deputy chairman at the mobile PC specialist, are also shared by two firms the company acquired in 2010: PJ Media, an ecommerce solution provider, and SIM card distributor Data Select Network Solutions.

The Manchester office was closed on 3 June and while all staff were invited to make the move, 30 have allegedly decided to seek alternative employment closer to home.

A member of staff contacted The Reg to complain that relocation compensation was derisory, and that just a handful of employees had made the move including CEO Anthony Catterson and senior buyer Rob Doyle.

The insider added the long serving staff were offered redundancy if they decided not to make the move. A small number of IT, accounts and customer service staff are expected to move across in the next month.

Consolidating the three commercial operations under one roof to cut costs is understood to be the rationale behind the move, but hiring staff in Marlow will inevitably be more expensive.

"The reasons are as plain as the nose on my face," said another source connected to the firm. "The rental money goes to Peter Jones. Expansys is not saving money by moving to Marlow - even cleaners cost more."

According to Data Select accounts filed at Companies House for the year ended 30 April 2010, Data Select alone paid Jones rent on the Marlow property of nearly £500,000 a year.

Expansys completed the acquisitions of PJ Media and DSNS last year for a total of £38m. Jones was listed as a director and shareholder of both businesses in their last filed accounts.

It is clear how the market is viewing the firm's development over the last year, as its share price tumbled from £0.136 pence on 9 June 2010 and stood at £0.0153 pence at time of writing.

Expansys issued a trading statement on Monday saying it expects to report profit before tax of £3.4m for the fiscal year ended 30 April 2011, compared to a loss of £200,000 a year earlier, but the environment in its UK heartland remains tough.

"The trading environment for our business remains challenging, especially in the UK and Europe, and we expect this to continue through the short to medium term," it said.

Expansys refused to comment on the relocation. ®

[An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the share price]

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