Uncertainty for hundreds as Yorkshire firms restructure

Adam Marshall
Adam Marshall
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HUNDREDS of jobs are under threat in Yorkshire after two of the regions firms announced they are restructuring their businesses.

More than 300 jobs in Hull are at risk under plans by electrical retailer Comet to close one of its call centres, while more than 100 jobs could go at the Yorkshire operations of carpet tile manufacturer InterfaceFLOR, in Shelf, near Halifax.

The news came as business leaders called on the Chancellor to cut taxes to stave off long-term economic stagnation.

The Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce is lobbying the Government to scrap the 5.6 per cent Business Rate rise which is planned for April 2012.

At the chamber’s quarterly forum last night, keynote speaker Adam Marshall, the British Chambers of Commerce’s Director of Policy, claimed the tax rise was being used to finance public sector schemes such as the council tax freeze and would hold back private sector growth.

Mark Goldstone, head of business representation and policy at the chamber, said: “The Chancellor is delivering his Budget against a backdrop of tough economic conditions. We need a ‘plan A+’ that compliments the Chancellor’s deficit cutting programme.

“We understand that public resources are strained, but the chamber believes that there is sufficient flexibility in the Chancellor’s spending programme for growth enhancing policies

“The planned 5.6 per cent rise in business rates is of real concern and conflicts with Government rhetoric that business should drive recovery.

“If the Chancellor goes through with the increase, it will place considerable pressure on company’s cash flow and divert money that could have been used for business growth.”

The 316 Comet staff at the company’s call centre in Hull were told yesterday of plans of a possible merger with its call centre in Clevedon, Bristol, which employs 414 people. A 90-day consultation period is now under way at both sites.

The firm said it planned to create one centre employing about 300 people, although it had not decided where.

Comet chief executive Bob Darke said: “In a phenomenally tough climate, significant savings are required to secure the long-term survival of our business.

“In no way should this be seen as a reflection of the commitment and efforts of our employees and we’ll make every effort to help those ultimately affected to find alternative employment.

“These proposals are still subject to a three-month consultation process and we’ll continue to look at a range of options across our sites.”

InterfaceFLOR has entered into a 30-day consultation with staff and officials from the trade union Unite over proposals to close its manufacturing and distribution operations in Shelf from the end of March.

Under the proposals the company would maintain its UK headquarters in Shelf, where sales and marketing, design and development and other support staff are based.