Workers were left in 鈥渃omplete shock鈥?as the Matalan head office and distribution centre in Knowsley reportedly announced more than 50 of their employees could lose their jobs.

The surprise announcement to 鈥渃ut the entire night shift workforce鈥? a team of 44, and ?1 drivers from the transport section鈥?came from the national fashion and homeware retailer on Wednesday night.

There have now been stark warnings that 鈥渓ivelihoods are at risk鈥?and Matalan have been asked why so many of their staff are set to be sacked but they are yet to respond.

The GMB Union say they are speaking to the workforce about what to do next but think there will be a 鈥渢rade dispute followed by strike action鈥?

The former Matalan distribution centre on Gillibrands Road in Skelmersdale
The former Matalan distribution centre on Gillibrands Road in Skelmersdale

Regional Matalan official at GMB Eddie Gaudie said: 鈥淭he staff are in complete shock at the moment.

鈥淭he announcement came completely out of the blue.

鈥淭hey are still outsourcing work to private contractors too because it is cheaper for them.?/p>

The union is blaming the potential job losses on 鈥渕ismanagement in the warehouses over the last few years鈥?and are now hoping 鈥渁t least some鈥?of the night workers are absorbed into the day shift team.

They also warned strike action could take place within the next three weeks.

In 2014 Matalan鈥檚 move from its former home in Skelmersdale to a new head office and distribution centre in Knowsley went badly wrong.

Lily developed arthritis when she was just three years old

The move saw 1,200 posts re-located and the recruitment of an additional 400 members of staff.

It move was meant to herald a new era of expansion for the discount retailer, including a major push to develop its online business.

However, it didn鈥檛 turn out like that. Bad planning and poor stock control were again blamed this time over profit warnings.

Major operational problems at the distribution centre left Matalan with excess seasonal stock that it was forced to sell at knock-down prices, hitting profits.

That had a knock on affect into the last financial year too and a statement was published on the Matalan website at that point from managing director of Matalan Jason Hargreaves. It read: 鈥淭he overall proposition delivered to customers, both in stores and online, was severely challenged and margins were significantly eroded.?/p>

Mr Gaudie said: 鈥淚t seems like the first thing they are doing to recover the losses from last year is to hit the workforce.?/p>

Matalan have been contacted for comment but are yet to respond.