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Lowestoft engineering firm to close in June - 113 jobs will be lost in "massive body blow" to staff

PUBLISHED: 15:08 07 April 2015 | UPDATED: 16:38 07 April 2015

Chloe Smith visiting AKD in 2012. Picture: James Bass

Chloe Smith visiting AKD in 2012. Picture: James Bass

(C) James Bass 2012

AKD Engineering Limited, which employs 113 people in Lowestoft is set to close at the end of June.

The decision ‘follows several years of substantial losses, compounded by the current downturn in the oil and gas sector,’ according to a statement.

AKD’s Managing Director Andrew Quayle said: “Despite a restructuring programme last year to keep the business going, market conditions mean that this is no longer realistic.

“Our thoughts are with our dedicated employees and their families and we will do whatever we can to assist them through this very difficult period.”

Trade union Unite regional officer Miles Hubbard said: “This is a massive body blow to the dedicated workforce and their families, and for the local economy on the Norfolk/Suffolk border.

“We will be seeking an urgent meeting with senior management to see what options may be available to save or relocate these jobs.

“This closure is an indication that nationally economic recovery is still very much centred on London and parts of the south east. We can ill afford to lose such skilled engineering jobs in this predominately rural area.

“We will be working closely with our members and all interested parties in the coming days and weeks to explore all employment opportunities for these workers.”

AKD, which has been in operation for 60 years, originally manufacturing diesel engines for the local ship building industry before specialising in engineering services for the oil and gas sector, which has been badly hit in recent months by a fall in global crude oil prices.

Last November, a representative from AKD told an energy industry conference in Norwich that the company was “focusing very heavily” on the opportunity represented by the decommissioning of oil and gas platforms in the North Sea.

Project manager Tim Crowe said the company saw potential to grow its workforce which at that time numbered around 120, representing an increase of 50% over the previous five years.

He added that AKD had already decommissioned five gas platforms between 2008 and 2010, in the Shell Leman Field six miles off the East Anglian coast.

This work had been worth approximately £12.5million but the bulk of decommissioning still lay ahead, over the next 30 years, and the company was in negotiations over new contracts, he told the event.

AKD Engineering, based on Horn Hill, is part of the Camellia group and was to have celebrated its diamond anniversary during 2015.

Last year the company launched an appeal to help track down one of the original AK Diesel engines to display at its site.

Employees were informed of the closure at a meeting this afternoon (Tuesday).

Will you been affected by the closure? Email: joe.randlesome@archant.co.uk

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