Barnstaple door making factory looks set to close

Joseph Bulmer

Leaderflush Shapland plans to move manufacturing arm of business to Nottingham, with the loss of 95 jobs

LEADERFLUSH Shapland is looking to close its door making factory in Barnstaple, with the loss of 95 jobs.

The company is proposing to transfer manufacturing from its Anchorwood Bank site to Nottingham. Around 50 sales, commercial and specialist support staff would remain in the Barnstaple area.

Staff were told of the news at a special briefing at 1pm today (Wednesday).

Leaderflush Shapland commercial director Robert Llewellyn said: “Earlier today, the company commenced a consultation process with the GMB Union representatives at the Barnstaple site.

“It is with considerable regret to confirm that the company is proposing a phased transfer of manufacturing undertaken on site here at Barnstaple to the headquarters in Nottingham.

“We can confirm that the sales, commercial and specialist support functions are not affected, and will be retained in the Barnstaple area.

“Clearly this is an extremely sensitive and emotional time for all involved and the management team recognises the need and urgency for clarity. As a result we will continue to liaise with the trade union officials and employees to discuss the implications, alternatives and timings related to this proposal.

“We will be meeting with the union again tomorrow and hope to discuss the proposals in more detail to allow a clearer view for all concerned.”

In May 2009, the door manufacturer – part of the SIG Group – had to shed 134 jobs from its Barnstaple site but in March last year, things started to look more positive when it was announced that some product lines were being moved to North Devon.

News of the proposals to close the factory comes in the same week the firm sold part of the Anchorwood Bank site to supermarket giant Asda.

Kevin Norman, GMB Regional Organiser said the announcement had come as a “shock” to staff.

“They have been dismayed the decision has been made because they believed they had been quite busy,” he told the Gazette.

“Having gone through the redundancy consultation last year, those staff remaining had thought they were safe.

“They have been busy, the work has been coming in but the company has decided to ship its operation to the North of England.

“It will be devastating for the whole area; Leaderflush Shapland is the second largest employer in the town.

“They are not likely to find jobs very easily because local unemployment in the area is quite high anyway.”