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Town of Buckfastleigh fears domino effect as second factory closes

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: March 07, 2013

  • Andy Craig, landlord of The Abbey Inn, plans to offer redundant staff work behind his bar PictureS: ADAM WALMESLEY

  • Peter Collings, owner of Huccaby's News, said the situation as 'worrying'

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Business owners fear the collapse of a historic carpet manufacturer could create a "domino effect" on other businesses.

They worry many of those who lost their jobs at Axminster Carpets after it finally went into administration yesterday will struggle to find alternative employment.

The loss of the company is not only being felt in the Devon town of Axminster, but also 48 miles away in Buckfastleigh, where the company has another factory.

Concern is mounting in the town that the loss of the Axminster factory in Buckfast Road will hit the local economy, including the adjoining post office.

However, the community is rallying to offer what support it can.

Andy Craig, landlord of nearby The Abbey Inn, yesterday said he wanted to offer help to some of 100 redundant staff and while he might not be able to match the kind of work they did at Axminster, he hoped to offer work behind the bar and waiting on tables. He said: "Many of the workers have been there almost all their lives. It's devastatingly sad for the individuals affected and their families.

"We will do what we can to help. Getting them on board is certainly my intention and we hope to offer them hours behind the bar and waiting on tables."

He added: "When you think of carpets you think of Axminster Carpets. They produce the best carpets in the world, but how many people want to buy the world's best carpets during a recession?"

Landlady Hayley Craig said: "Fewer customers coming into other businesses will reduce overall trade and could create a domino effect."

Lorraine Lee, sub postmaster of the post office, said: "The situation here is horrible. It's suddenly gone very quiet. There is a degree of uncertainty about the future of this post office."

Peter Collings, chairman of Buckfastleigh Chamber of Trade and owner of Huccaby's News, described the situation as a "worrying time".

He said: "Axminster carpets was part of the fabric of the community. Money is money, but there's nothing more important than friends and family. Businesses will carry-on, but we're all very upset for everyone we know.

"Personally I'm devastated for my friends and family who were employed by Axminster Carpets. They've had their lives turned upside-down."

Rescue talks aim to save jobs at carpet company

Rescue talks have been launched as business leaders attempt to conjure a “phoenix-like” takeover from the remains of crisis company Axminster Carpets and save

95 jobs in the process.

The historic manufacturer announced it had finally gone into administration on Tuesday, bringing to an end two weeks of uncertainty with the sacking of 300 staff.

Negotiations took place in Birmingham yesterday aimed at restarting the operation – possibly under the world-renowned Axminster brand – with a skeleton staff.

Speaking during a break in meetings, Tim Jones, chairman of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, said the talks were “very sensitive”.

“It is an attempt to restart a phoenix-like company – talks are going well but it is not a done deal yet,” he added.

He did not confirm who was involved in the talks.

Staff at the firm’s factory were left dismayed and upset after being summoned to a meeting in the canteen on Tuesday to hear of their fate.

The union representing workers, Community, said its priority was now helping to support and advise sacked employees, who have been told they will receive wages for the time they have worked.

Lorraine Gaskell, campaign manager for Community, said there was hope that a rescue package could revive the company and protect the jobs of the 95 staff retained by administrators Duff and Phelps.

However, she admitted this would be “cold comfort” for the 300 unlucky workers, who are now being supported by local councils and the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

The mayor of Axminister, also deputy leader of East Devon District Council, has reacted with sadness at the job losses and has pledged council support for the workforce.

Andrew Moulding also said he had mixed feelings about the rescue package that is being put together.

“I am obviously pleased that the Axminster Carpets brand will be kept alive and that the company is to continue trading in the town,” he added.

“But there is a bitter-sweet taste to this news, because of the unhappy revelation that a significant number of jobs will be lost – and that will have an impact on individuals and families.”

The council’s revenues and benefits team, JobCentre Plus, Axminster Job Club and the CAB all plan to offer advice at the factory today from 2pm.

Staff at the company’s yarn spinning plant at Buckfast who are losing their jobs have been offered a redundancy clinic at the plant from 9am to 11.30am.

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