THE new man at the helm of Smallbone of Devizes has told the workforce that the number of employees needs to be cut but the future of the site on the Hopton Industrial Estate is safe.

Ron Shemesh who is the owner of Lux Group Holdings, the parent company of Smallbone, said: “We are on track to build a best of class manufacturing operation in the Devizes area on a massive piece of property.”

He said that the company will remain in Devizes but what he called ‘right sizing’ needed to happen to allow a new 40 year plan into action. He has his sights on winning a Queen’s Award for Industry for the firm which started in a small workshop in Bishops Cannings, near Devizes.

The company said yesterday: “Whilst some of the employees have decided to take leave and pursue other avenues, and some others might be made redundant, the company intends to grow the operation over the next several years.”

It is understood that talks with the GMB Union were held on Monday and up to 50 people from a range of departments could go.

A company spokesman said: “The company has just completed a one million pound renovation of its current facilities for its new factory.”

Mr Shemesh is a business partner of New York entrepreneur Gary Barnett who bought the furniture making business in December when Canburg was in financial difficulties.

He is now a major investor in the business and involved with the day to day running. A company spokesman said: “Mr. Shemesh has decided that the company will remain in Devizes and right size its plant, equipment and personnel for a bright future.

“Mr. Shemesh is a seasoned serial entrepreneur with experience in large manufacturing.”

He now has the title of chief value creation officer of Lux. In the past Mr. Shemesh took several failing UK flexible packaging operations and combined them into a packaging super centre at Deeside Industrial Park.

After a massive investment in new equipment and facilities Mr. Shemesh won the Queens Award for Enterprise as a large exporter of technologically sophisticated packaging to the United States.

His company Excelsior Technologies won this prestigious award twice and has become a massive success.

He said: “Our aim is to try and get the Queens Award again, but this time for one of the icons of the British furniture industry Smallbone and Mark Wilkinson.”

Lux Group has in the past two months purchased the original manufacturing base of Mark Wilkinson, which was operating as McCarron and Co. in Bromham.

The company took on 42 McCarron employees under a TUPE arrangement when it was in danger of going into liquidation.

A spokesman said: “Mr Shemesh has no doubt that with a seasoned and best of class workforce and new methods of operations and investment, Smallbone of Devizes will see another 40 years of pioneering work in the luxury furniture industry.”