Children’s video games company axes 30 jobs
A company that develops video games for children has sacked more than 30 employees as it struggles to cope with serious financial difficulties, Times of Malta has learnt.
TRC Family Entertainment Ltd, set up in Malta in June 2011, informed staff members that their job was being terminated and that they would have a one-month notice period.
Employees contacted by this newspaper said the writing had been on the wall since June when they did not receive their salaries. This happened again at the end of July.
Chief executive Paul Taylor told Times of Malta the company was forced to resort to collective redundancy as it had not received the expected funds from its committed lead investor, Euphoria Media (Ireland) Ltd. As a result, it had to terminate the employment of “the majority” of its employees: 33 people. He said the company was hoping to re-employ once the funds were received.
“TRC Family Entertainment Ltd has temporarily interrupted development activity. The board of directors has taken the strategic decision to contain ongoing costs while pursuing urgent resolution of the matter, which, due to the current situation, means that the majority of staff must be released with the goal of rehiring once the contracted funds are received,” he said.
Stressing that the executive team “highly regretted” what was happening and was “working diligently to bring resolution to the matter as quickly as possible”, Mr Taylor said operations would continue with a smaller team “until the funding is available to ramp back up to full production velocity”.
When asked, he said that the company was “liaising with the relevant government departments” on the collective redundancy.
Malta Enterprise had invested in TRC by purchasing a 15 per cent stake. At a press event on November 22, 2011, the chairman of Malta Enterprise at the time, Alan Camilleri, had signed an agreement with the company in the presence of then Finance Minister Tonio Fenech who had announced that the company was investing $6 million in Malta and was planning to generate 100 new jobs.
The company, the first of its kind in Malta, started well and grew exponentially in the first two years, especially considering that it had no revenue as its products were placed online in its efforts to build the brand name.
In December 2013, TRC launched Wishingtooth.com for friends and family as the first reveal of the brand.
In January this year, it launched The Wishingtooth Storybook Adventure, its first title for iOS, Android and Kindle Fire. The second app, Wishingtooth Wishmaker, followed in May.
Financial problems began to creep in and when workers did not receive their salaries in June the management attributed it to a technical hitch and kept postponing paying them, according to employees.
Then, last Wednesday, through an e-mail from the human resources manager, Justin Camilleri, the company informed its workforce it was opting for collective redundancy. They were given a one-month notice period, according to law.
Affected workers are both foreign and Maltese. The foreigners include a US citizen who relocated to Malta with his entire family to take up employment here.
Most of those made redundant were software developers but the figure also included script writers, artists, content designers and sound engineers.