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Sacked store manager whose bosses said he was too modest

A SUCCESSFUL Marks and Spencer manager was wrongly sacked because he was too modest in a self-assessment questionnaire.

A SUCCESSFUL Marks and Spencer manager was wrongly sacked because he was too modest in a self-assessment questionnaire.

Mike Davies had been a hero of a terrorist bombing and devoted all his working life to the company.

He enjoyed a £70,000 salary and ran a flagship North West store that was the best of its kind in the Marks and Spencer empire with a £100m annual turnover.

With 29 years service to the firm maths graduate Mr Davies, 49, received £140,000 in redundancy pay when he was dismissed in June 2000.

Senior managers branded him "too passive" when they marked down his selfassessment questionnaire about his contributions to the company.

The man who sacked him tried to claim he had been offered re-deployment but Mr Davies produced tape-recordings of interviews to prove this was untrue.

Incensed at the treatment he received and determined to clear his name, Mr Davies sued for a breach of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

Pitted against the store's legal team he represented himself and won, securing a full admission from Marks' solicitor that he was unfairly dismissed.

An employment tribunal in Liverpool heard that he had joined Marks and Spencer from university and rose through ranks to manage the store at the Gemini Retail Park at Warrington, Cheshire.

It also learned that his store was the most successful of 15 similar sites in the Marks and Spencer empire.

Divorcee Mr Davies was responsible for managing 1,200 staff, including those at a branch at nearby St Helens.

But when Marks and Spencer went through a restructuring and downsizing exercise in 2000 it was decided that 29 managers would be made redundant.

Mr Davies was made redundant on June 12, 2000 by northern division manager Paul Nursaw, who had known him for just seven months.

An "Individual Skills Assessment Questionnaire" was issued to all store managers as part of an exercise to select candidates for redundancy.

Despite his fine record of success, Wallasey-born Mr Davies, gave himself an average score.

Yet his superior Paul Nursaw disagreed and marked him down as being "too passive" and not "pro-active".

Mr Nursaw told the hearing: "Mike's scores in the questionnaire were in the bottom ten. He was too passive and not pro-active in the right way for the business.

"I recognised Mike wasn't always aware, as a leader, of how to develop his people and take them forward."

Mr Davies told the tribunal: "I strongly feel I deserved to score higher in the questionnaire and that this indicates the Marks and Spencer consultation process was not fair.

"As for not developing staff it is fair to say that one of my deputy managers went on to manage the largest store in the division seven months after starting work with me."

In a statement to the tribunal Mr

Nursaw said redundancy had not been the only option for Mr Davies.

But tapes of disciplinary meetings, openly tape recorded by Mr Davies, were used to show no alternative had been offered.

Mr Davies told Mr Nursaw: "You had made up your mind that I was to go and filled my vacancy before we had entered into discussions.

"Your blunt refusal to supply me with information about other options suggests I was unfairly dismissed."

Tribunal chairman Mr Mervyn Homfray- Davies agreed and described the questionnaire as "highly subjective".

Mr Homfray-Davies suggested Marks and Spencer should reconsider its position.

Solicitor Miss Kirsty Ayre, who represented the company, formally conceded that Mr Davies had been unfairly dismissed.

After the hearing Mr Davies, who lives in Appleton, Warrington, explained that since he had received £140,000 in redundancy pay he was not seeking financial compensation.

He said: "I was not after money or my job back. I was simply seeking confirmation that it was unfair dismissal."

Mr Davies, who has one 15-year-old daughter, spoke of how he carries vivid memories of the carnage at the Paris store.

In recognition of his valour on February 15, 1985 he received a personal commendation from Marks' former chairman Lord Rayner.

Speaking at his four-bedroomed detached home Mr Davies told how he managed the Paris branch when it was attacked by terrorists connected to the Lockerbie disaster.

He still occasionally suffers from a hoarse voice, as a result of inhaling nitro glycerin fumes while rescuing victims from the wreckage.

He said: "One person died and 50 were injured. It was a very harrowing experience.

Mr Davies is currently training to be a business financial adviser at a branch of the Halifax bank in the Manchester area...SUPL:


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