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Lowestoft factory set to close after Christmas

PUBLISHED: 07:00 15 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:35 06 July 2010

Jeld Wen - which is set to close.

Jeld Wen - which is set to close.

Hayley Mace

Workers at one of Lowestoft's biggest employers are facing a bleak Christmas after being told that their factory will close in the New Year.

Jeld Wen announced yesterday that it will be closing its factory on Waveney Drive in Lowestoft over the coming months - a move which is likely to result in the loss of 194 jobs.

Workers at one of Lowestoft's biggest employers are facing a bleak Christmas after being told that their factory will close in the New Year.

Jeld Wen announced yesterday that it will be closing its factory on Waveney Drive in Lowestoft over the coming months - a move which is likely to result in the loss of 194 jobs.

The bitter blow for Jeld Wen came as it was revealed that there may be some good news on the horizon as administrators who have taken over Lowestoft-based engineering firm SLP are still hopeful of finding a buyer for the company, which made 45 workers in the town redundant last month.

Staff at Jeld Wen, which processes, mills and treats wood to be made into doors, window frames and stairs at the company's other factories, were told yesterday morning that the factory, formerly Boulton and Paul, will be closed in phases next year.

A Jeld Wen spokesman said that the company needs to make savings in its manufacturing processes in order to remain competitive.

She said: “Due to the economic conditions particularly affecting the construction industry, we are left with no alternative but to close the Lowestoft site.

“We are now working closely with the unions to discuss the next phase and staff are being updated as we work through the consultation process.”

GMB Union representative Ivan Mercer said: “From the very first meeting I had with Jeld Wen, it looked very unlikely that there was going to be any chance to save the factory. This is a blow for the whole town, not just for the workers. It's a real kick in the teeth for Lowestoft.”

Waveney MP Bob Blizzard, who was at a meeting with Jeld Wen staff and union officials last week, said he was sad to hear that nothing can be done to save jobs at Jeld Wen.

He said: “It is a very grim situation. It is particularly sad and deeply disappointing that this is happening at this time of the year, as that seems to add insult to injury, I did ask why that had to be the case but did not get a satisfactory answer.

“Now that the decision has been made, we have to focus on getting the best redundancy deals for the workers and I have arranged for Jobcentre Plus to set up a rapid response team at the factory in January in order to give advice and help to the staff.

“This is yet more sad news for Lowestoft but we will fight back from it.”

However Mr Blizzard said he is hopeful that Lowestoft may be able to avoid more redundancies from SLP, which employs nearly 700 people in the town.

He is holding more meetings with the administrators from SLP this week and said that the company is in talks with a major international company which has expressed an interest in buying the company, which makes modules for oil and gas platforms.

He said: “We will keep our fingers crossed. We know there is interest in SLP, so we are still hopeful of finding a buyer. I have met with the administrators myself and we are trying our best to move things forward.”

SLP announced that it had gone into administration last month after an ongoing contractual dispute with a customer. Although 45 management jobs were lost, most of the workers are still needed to complete two outstanding contracts.


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