Devastating news as almost 200 jobs at risk in Jedburgh

Workers at Jedburgh’s two biggest employers have been given the heartbreaking news that their jobs will be lost.

Jedburgh's Mainetti UK factory.
Jedburgh's Mainetti UK factory.

Workers at clothes hanger factory Mainetti and engineering company LS Starrett were told that production is being taken out of the Borders town.

Mainetti, which earlier this year put their staff on a three-day working week due to a drop in orders as customers such as British Home Stores, Debenhams and Oasis went into administration.

And, with the Covid-19 lockdown meaning existing clothes stores have been closed for nearly three months, directors have decided to move all production to its other facility in Wrexham, with only finance and sales teams remaining in Jedburgh.

This leaves 96 jobs at risk in the Jedburgh factory and the company has entered a consultation process into redundancies.

The announcement was made today at 2pm by regional managing director James Hutchison, with all employees, including those furloughed in the job retention scheme, called in to hear it.

Mr Hutchison told them: “In April and May our combined hanger sales were £140,000 against a budget of £3million.

“This is less than 5% of the budget ... not enough for the business to remain financially viable.

“We are not anticipating any significant changes for this season’s sales.

“Looking forward it is hard for the directors to see a situation where demand for hangers goes back to what it was before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

“The directors have therefore reviewed our operations and I am today announcing that we will begin a redundancy consultation process around a proposal to restructure our UK operations and consolidate the business onto one site.

“We propose that that site is Wrexham and not Jedburgh.

This announcement affects the production, warehouse and operations staff in Jedburgh who are at risk of redundancy.”

There may be light at the end of the tunnel for some of the workers, however.

Me Hutchison added: “Recognising the big impact that this announcement will have on the local community, we propose to sell the site to our associate company Emtelle.

“Emtelle is a growing business which requires more space to expand their operations in Jedburgh.

“Our proposal is that Emtelle will take over the factory space that we vacate whatever the outcome of the consultation process and Mainetti will rent space back from them.

“Emtelle will have an immediate requirement for staff and this number will increase as more work is brought in-house. More detail around these new jobs will be given during the consultation process and how to apply for them.”

He goes on to add: “We fully appreciate that this is not good news, but the current pandemic means we have to make changes to ensure the UK business survives.”

LS Starrett, also based in Jedburgh, has also informed employees of a redundancy consultation process, telling them around 100 manufacturing and manufacturing support roles are likely to be at risk.

It is believed the company is moving production of its saw products and optical profile projectors to Itu in Brazil and Suzhou in China respectively, ceasing production completely in Jedburgh.

In the letter to employees, signed by Douglas Starrett, workers are told that a consultation exercise, lasting seven to eight weeks, will be carried out, with an election for employee representatives in the negotiations taking place over the next two weeks.

Jedburgh councillor Scott Hamilton said the news will be devastating to the entire town.

He told us: “Obviously, this news will have a huge impact on Jedburgh and the surrounding area.

“Covid has been a huge challenge for businesses, which has been highlighted by both of these businesses in the town.

“These are the two main employers in Jedburgh, and having one to shed a large number of staff is bad enough, but both at the same time is really going to have a big impact on the town as a whole.

“The High Street in Jedburgh is struggling as it is, with the lockdown, and it’s going to get a lot worse, with all these employees having less money.

“The government has policies in place to help people losing their jobs, but it’s definitely not a replacement for having lost your job and the security of a regular wage.

“Some of the workers will have mortgages based on the money they are earning, so it’s going to be a difficult time for lots of these people.

“My heart goes out to all who are going to be affected by this terrible news.”