Ex-employees of Concept Group in their former office on the 15th floor of Thuraya Building, Dubai Media City Image Credit: Xpress/Pankaj Sharma

Dubai : The Dubai-based Concept Group, first established in 1981, last week became the latest credit crunch casualty when senior officials met employees at a café and told them their jobs are gone, employees told XPRESS.

Mass termination

The services of the company's remaining dozen or so employees were terminated en masse on May 23 in the last straw that broke the back of a home-grown firm which once employed up to 350 people.

The group had interests in public relations, publishing and outdoor advertising arms and organised big events such as Dubai Fashion Week and produced RetailME magazine.

It also won the tender to build 90 Abu Dhabi bus shelters.

The remaining employees had been told to work from home from April 29 on the pretext that the company was shifting offices from Dubai Media City to Jumeirah Lakes Towers.

Dinesan P., a father of two who joined Concept in 2006, said they were looking forward to the relocation when the company's senior executive dropped the bombshell.

"I have my eldest child's school fees, rent and utilities to pay," said the 40-year-old Art Director. "Summers here are also a tough time to find a new job," added Dinesan, whose April and May salaries had not been paid.

Ryan Saudi, 28, a Briton who worked for a year as senior graphic designer at Concept, was one of the 16 people whose services were terminated on May 23.

"We're all stuck in limbo," said Saudi. "I cannot finalise my papers to find another job because there's no management to process them."

Radhesh Menon, the Concept PR Manager for two years, quit in April due to non-payment of his salary since February 2010.

Major player

The Concept Group, an agency that used to handle major government and private sector projects, had been struggling to stay afloat due to massive budget cuts by major clients.

Menon said that Aldrin Fernandes, the group's chairman, fled to Canada more than a year ago, leaving a special power of attorney to two of his assistants.

Sudha Nadar, who was sacked in December 2009 still awaits her end-of-service benefits despite a promissory note by company executives to pay her by April. She has given up all hope of getting that money.