More Borders job losses threatened as Macdonald Hotel bosses propose workforce cuts

Warning that redundancies could be on the way at a second Peebles hotel have been described as a hammer blow to the local community and ecomony.

By Kathryn Wylie
Thursday, 11th June 2020, 12:32 pm
Updated Thursday, 11th June 2020, 12:38 pm
Cardrona Hotel, Peebles.
Cardrona Hotel, Peebles.

Staff at the four-star Macdonald Cardrona Hotel are at risk of losing their jobs after its owners announced plans to shed 80% of its workforce.

Macdonald Hotels group, which owns 31 hotels UK-wide and 11 in Scotland, warns is could cut 1,800 jobs due to a fall in custom during the coronavirus lockdown.

And workers at the 99-bedroom spa and conference hotel, which includes an 18-hole championship golf course in Cardrona, are among 2,299 UK-wide employees who receiving consultation notices this week.

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They join around 184 staff at the nearby Peebles Hydro who are also facing an uncertain future following this week’s announcement of planned job cuts there, too.Scottish Borders Council leader, Tweeddale east member Shona Haslam, said: “This is another hammer blow to our local community and economy.

“We are hopeful the Scottish Government announcement that the tourism sector can reopen on the July 15, will mean that these redundancies will be kept to a minimum. However, this is obviously concerning news, coming on the back of the Peebles Hydro announcement.

“Of course, we will do everything in our power to support employees and will be working with our partners across the South of Scotland to restart our tourism industry.”

Tourist providers were told yesterday they should prepare to re-open in five weeks’ time by tourism minister Fergus Ewing.

Macdonald Hotels group deputy chairman Gordon Fraser said: “We had really hoped to avoid this very unwelcome step, but with no realistic prospects of a return to anything like normal trading for the foreseeable future, we were simply left with no choice. Potentially, we are looking at around 1,800 roles at risk, in all areas and at all levels of the business.

“The government’s furlough scheme has helped to a degree but our essential operating costs, insurance and some wages are still having to be paid, meaning our monthly cash outgoings are still running at £2 million while we are forced to remain closed. Even after cutting all non-essential spending and with senior management and our remaining staff accepting reduced salaries, the current situation is simply unsustainable.

“There is no realistic prospect of us returning to anything approaching normality for the foreseeable future and, whilst its enormously regrettable, we simply must take these steps to ensure that we have a meaningful business when this situation ends, enabling us to bring back as many of our employees as possible.

“We are seeing more and more of our counterparts being forced into the same, very difficult decisions to either close completely or to cut back on hardworking and valued members of staff. It’s a tragedy.

“Everyone understands that drastic steps had to be taken to halt coronavirus but the only way out of this for our industry is when the current restrictions are eased significantly, and people feel comfortable returning to hotels and restaurants.

“Given the enormous importance of the tourism and hospitality sector for local economies the length and breadth of the UK, it is incumbent upon both the Westminster and Scottish Governments to do everything they can to support our industry. If they fail to do so, many long-standing and well-loved businesses will simply not survive, scarring some of our most fragile communities for years to come.”