Get Swindon Working: A difficult year for companies

This Is Wiltshire: Honda staff leave the plant after job losses are announced in January Honda staff leave the plant after job losses are announced in January

IT MAY only be June but since the turn of the year more than 3,000 jobs have been lost in Swindon leaving a black hole in the jobs market.

It has been a tough year on the job front across the whole country, with a number of household names going to the wall, and Swindon has suffered badly as a result.

The first big blow came on Friday, January 11, when Honda, one of the town’s biggest employees, announced that it would be slashing its workforce by 800 people at its South Marston factory.

The news sent a shockwave through the town where nearly everybody knows someone who works at the plant, which at the time, employed more than 3,500 people.

The company, which provides vehicles solely for the European market, said it had been hit by low demand in Greece, Spain and Italy and had difficulty in selling their vehicles on mainland Europe.

The supply chain was also affected with around 800 jobs lost including 370 agency positions at Honda’s logistics company DC Ltd in South Marston, which Steve Gopal, the general manager described as a devastating blow.

The council was also having to cut its cloth and council leader at the time, Rod Bluh, announced in January that it would be slashing 120 posts, of which 50 were vacant, in a bid to find £4m savings.

It was also revealed at the end of January that 70 jobs would go at the firm which provides the bulk of services for Swindon Council as it strived to deal with reduced income.

Swindon Commercial Services Ltd, which employs about 770 people, started a staff consultation on plans to restructure to cope with expected ongoing reduced funding from the council.

More bad news came on Wednesday, January 23, when it was announced that around 80 more jobs were set to go in the town with the closure of a media printers that produces covers and booklets for CDs and DVDs.

The 75 to 80 staff at AGI Shorewood, based at Kembrey Park Industrial Estate, received letters from the firm detailing the redundancy package and giving notice of the intent to close by the end of February.

On Wednesday, January 30, leading financial services company The Bank of New York Mellon said that its Swindon office would close putting more than 100 jobs at threat, to bring an end to a bad month on the job front.

The high street was also seen to be suffering as shoppers were becoming more thrifty with their money and many were moving to online shopping.

Jobs were lost at camera chain Jessops, based in Canal Walk, after the group went into administration at the beginning of January.

On Wednesday, February 13, the joint administrators to Blockbuster confirmed that the two branches at the Orbital Shopping Centre and West Swindon would be amongst their stores closing. Despite the company being bought out it was not enough to save the Swindon stores.

Sixteen jobs were also lost when HMV closed its doors in Regent Street, and again, despite other stores in the country being saved, Swindon was not so lucky.

March brought yet more misery on the job front as it was announced that 73 jobs had been lost when Kerry Foods closed its distribution centre.

Kerry Foods, an Irish-based company which deals in food ingredients and flavours serving the food and beverage industry had a depot in Dorcan, but it chose to consolidate its distribution to its other depot in Bredbury, near Manchester.

On Friday, May 3, Honda confirmed that it had finalised the redundancy programme announced in January and had to make a total of 38 compulsory redundancies.

A further 554 workers took the voluntary redundancy package offered to them and 188 vacant roles were no longer required as a result of the restructure of Honda’s Swindon operation.

A further 150 jobs were lost in May after Virgin Holidays Cruises announced it was leaving Royal Wootton Bassett.

The company, based in Coped Hall Business Park, moved the administrative operations of Virgin Holidays Cruises to its headquarters in Crawley.

The town’s football club has also seen the impact of the tough economic times and announced at the end of last month that a redundancy process had been finalised with four volunteers taking voluntary redundancy.

The latest blow came this month as Biomet started to move the company out of the town with 230 employees being affected by the move.

The global supplier of orthopaedic devices, based in Murdock Road, Dorcan, announced in 2011 that it was proposing to focus all its production at its site in Bridgend, Wales.

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JOBS WERE ALSO CREATED AT SOME FIRMS

IT has not all been doom and gloom and some businesses in Swindon have been making job opportunities.

McDonald’s has been bucking the recent trend of major firms making large-scale redundancies by advertising for 35 new jobs.

Franchisee Paul Booth is set to create jobs in Swindon throughout this year, as part of a nationwide commitment by the firm to create 2,500 new positions across the UK by the end of the year.

The company’s growth has been driven by investment in its restaurants and technology, new restaurants and extended opening hours, which include the extra hour each morning recently granted for their North Swindon outlet and the now 24-hour restaurant on Great Western Way by Swindon Council.

South Marston based Oak Furniture Land also sounded a positive note in January as it took on new recruits.

It opened a new store next to John Lewis in Mannington Retail Park on Boxing Day and is expanding its 500,000 sq ft warehouse and distribution facility, which is part of its head office in South Marston.

As it opens other branches across the country, new roles are being created in its customer service and IT teams.

Paul Brock, head of marketing, said: “We have 36 stores nationally and we plan to put another 12 in this year which will mean we triple in size. As that expansion programme continues into the year it will create vacancies in all of these areas.

“As stores open it will create more need for after-sales and customer service functions, which are all dealt with in Swindon. We’ve been based in Swindon for some time and are looking for talented individuals from the area as we invest in our future.”

Comments (3)

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1:03pm Tue 18 Jun 13

itsamess3 says...

Why this obsession with office space with so many office spaces vacant?
Why this obsession with office space with so many office spaces vacant? itsamess3

1:14pm Tue 18 Jun 13

house on the hill says...

Some of the empty units just need to be knocked down, no one is going to pay to rent them even if they wanted to. There is some good news though with businesses opening, Iceland and Waitrose to name just 2.
Some of the empty units just need to be knocked down, no one is going to pay to rent them even if they wanted to. There is some good news though with businesses opening, Iceland and Waitrose to name just 2. house on the hill

7:11pm Tue 18 Jun 13

justmynote says...

I have been unemployed for a few months. What makes it worse is the attitude of employers. They know there is massive competition for work so most don't get back to you after an interview even after they have said they would (such as The Manor Cabinet Co) and as I am over 50 I have been asked at two interviews if there was any chance I would be taking early retirement....
I have been unemployed for a few months. What makes it worse is the attitude of employers. They know there is massive competition for work so most don't get back to you after an interview even after they have said they would (such as The Manor Cabinet Co) and as I am over 50 I have been asked at two interviews if there was any chance I would be taking early retirement.... justmynote

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