Selkirk’s RP Adam cleaning products factory is set to be shut down, potentially putting almost 50 staff there out of work.
That threat to its survival comes less than two years after the Arpal Group, based at the North Riverside Industrial Park factory, off Riverside Road, was taken over by US-based Ecolab in what was reported to be multi-million-pound deal.
Staff are now being consulted about the plans and will be offered redeployment packages, though how many will be able to take up such an offer remains to be seen.
According to Ecolab, the decision to shut the near-130-year-old factory was taken following a review of its manufacturing operation in the UK.
Aaron Gardiner, a vice-president with the multinational conglomerate, said: “The purpose of consultation is to discuss the proposed closure and the implications this decision has.
“This decision was made after extensive review of our manufacturing in the UK to identify ways to further optimise the efficiency of our operations.
“We determined that our other UK manufacturing plants are better suited to meet the long-term needs of our business in this market.
“This decision applies only to the Selkirk manufacturing site and offices.
“Secondly, it is in no way due to the quality of the team or the quality of the work at this location.
“The company’s intention is to maintain the Arpal brand, to retain existing customers and to continue a market approach that is distinct to the RP Adam company.
“Our immediate focus is to support the employees affected by this decision.
“We will explore possible ways to reduce or mitigate the effects of any redundancies, such as redeployment, filling open positions at other Ecolab sites or assistance with job placement.”
Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP John Lamont has described the news as a deep disappointment, saying: “RP Adam has a long history in Selkirk, and the loss of this business will come as a shock to many.
“This is deeply disappointing news at a time when the town is undergoing significant regeneration and business improvement.
“Ecolab have assured me their focus is on supporting their employees. Unfortunately, redistribution of staff is not really an option, so it is clear we are looking at a sizeable number of redundancies.
“I will continue to liaise with the company, but any employees with concerns can get in touch with me too.
“I will be working with Scottish Borders Council and others to ensure that the necessary support is put in place for those affected by this news.”
Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP Rachael Hamilton added: “This is worrying news emerging from RP Adam in Selkirk.
“The loss of 48 jobs is a large hit for Selkirk and the surrounding area, and I will be contacting RP Adam in the coming days to discuss what can be done to ensure that all is being done to protect its hard-working staff.
“Should any employees of RP Adam require assistance, my office is open and I will endeavour to do our best to offer support where possible.”
The Selkirk-based Arpal Group employed 85 staff in the Borders at the time of its takeover in December 2017, plus a further 46 in its United Arab Emirates operation, based in Dubai.
Ecolab describes itself as the global leader in water, hygiene and energy technologiesandservicesthatprotect people and vital resources.
At the time of that takeover, Mr Gardiner said: “If you look at RP Adam’s reputation, their service ability in the market and the way they line up relative to Ecolab, we feel it is positioned really nicely for long-term growth in the UK and beyond.”
Even then, though, he declined to guarantee that its Selkirk workforce’s jobs were safe, saying only: “We have an integration team put together, and we don’t know enough yet.
“I’m excited about spending time in Scotland, and we are going to learn.
“It is business as usual as it stands today.”