Ashfield economy suffers jobs blow

NMAC11-2481-1'Abacus on Sutton's Oddicroft Lane Industrial Estate, which is making some of it's workers redundant.
NMAC11-2481-1'Abacus on Sutton's Oddicroft Lane Industrial Estate, which is making some of it's workers redundant.

ASHFIELD’S fragile economy has suffered a major setback after two international firms in the district announced job losses.

Abacus Lighting, which is based at Oddicroft Lane in Sutton, has announced redundancies while power firm E-ON, which is based at Sherwood Business Park in Annesley wants to cut 500 jobs nationally.

Abacus, which specialises in the design, manufacturer, and maintenance of exterior lighting systems, has made 15 people redundant at the Sutton plant with bosses saying the decision was based on ‘the current economic climate’.

In a statement, group managing director Andrew Morris-Richardson said: “It is with regret that we have recently made a number of redundancies within Abacus UK.

“We have been forced to take a number of prudent measures to align ourselves with the current economic climate within the UK and Europe. We feel it is necessary to ensure that Abacus remains competitive and is in a solid position for future growth when the UK economy starts to recover. Reluctantly, this has resulted in some job losses here in Sutton.

“We have a highly specialist team of skilled people at Abacus and manufacturing is at the core of our business.

“We manufacture for both the UK and international markets at our global head office in Sutton.

Being part of Britain’s manufacturing sector is incredibly important to us as an organisation and our skills in this sector are second-to-none.”

Abacus has worked on a number of high-profile projects around the world and opened a new manufacturing facility in Shanghai, China, in February this year.

Over the past year, the firm has also enjoyed high-profile visits from HRH Prince Andrew, as well as the leader and chief executive of Nottinghamshire County Council, Coun Kay Cutts and Mick Burrows.

Only last week, Ashfield MP Gloria de Piero nominated Abacus for the Made in Britain campaign.

Meanwhile, E-ON wants 500 support staff to take voluntary redundancy - although compulsory redundancies have not been ruled out. It is not known exactly how many jobs are at risk locally.

The news follows the sale of distribution arm Central Networks.

Dr Paul Golby, chief executive of E-ON UK, said: “We had to undertake a deep and rigorous review of how much money we spend in order to ensure we keep costs as low as possible for our customers, become a more agile organisation and build a sustainable business in the UK.

“While I’m very aware that this will be a difficult time for our colleagues, it is our aim to keep uncertainty to a minimum and to achieve these redundancies by voluntary means.”

This week, chief executive of the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce George Cowcher said: “Obviously, the loss of jobs in Ashfield will have an impact on the area, particularly at such a crucial time in the economic recovery.

“However, the chamber remains fully supportive of E-ON and Abacus Lighting, which are both extremely well-run businesses that have established strong brands on a global scale.

“The important thing now is to ensure that both businesses remain sustainable and viable over the longer term and these prudent decisions have been taken to ensure that they remain competitive and are able to capitalise on future growth when the pace of recovery in the UK and Eurozone economies begins to pick up.

“It’s also important to ensure that the business community, employment and training providers and other organisations work together to try to get as many of those affected employees as possible into alternative employment.”

Ashfield MP Gloria de Piero said: “No business is immune from the effects of the recession. That is why the Government must do more to support local businesses. As Ashfield MP I’ll always do my best to promote our companies and continue to press the Government to take action to tackle unemployment in our area”.