Croydon Village Outlet plunged further into crisis this week as staff threatened to take legal action and go on strike over unpaid wages while debtors chased thousands of pounds in unpaid bills.

Employees of the troubled department store are understood to be in talks with workplace dispute arbitrator Acas, with many workers yet received last month's pay cheques and prepared to walk out in protest.

Staff also condemned the "appalling" conduct of managers who they allege threatened them with the sack if they took action over unpaid wages.

One employee, who works on the shop floor, said: "The staff are so low it is unbelievable. A lot of them threatened to walk out and were told if they walked out they'd be sacked.

"They have got them over a barrel."

She added: "They don't know whether to go or whether to stay and try to get their money. It is a sham.

"It is appalling how they treat the staff and how they speak to them as well.

"More and more concessions are pulling out. It is a shambles. The stock they bring in is quite shoddy so I can understand why people aren't shopping there."

Some staff received 40 per cent of their wages on March 26, their designated payday, while others received no money.

A former security guard, one of several to have quit Croydon Village Outlet in recent weeks, said: "These people should not be allowed to operate a business. They do not care about their staff.

"People have got bills to pay. They are hard times out here and we have really nice people who come in day-in, day-out and don't even get paid."

The Croydon Guardian reported last month that the North End store was on the brink of collapse, with several retailers abandoning concessions amid dwindling footfall.

Several of the store's suppliers are also understood to be owed thousands of pounds.

Ahead of the store's opening in September, owner Marco Cash declared it would last 150 years years and become an "established force pulling millions of people into the town".

But Mr Cash has now disappeared from the store's day-to-day running.

He has not returned repeated requests for comment.

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