Fears for the future of Berwick’s economy have been raised after one of its biggest firms axed more than a third of its workforce.
Allan Brothers, which employed around 150 people at its Tweedmouth woodyard, is making 65 staff redundant.
Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith said: “This is a serious blow to the economy of Berwick and many families will be affected not just in Allan Brothers but also in other businesses and suppliers.
“The news that sash window construction will continue is welcome but the confidence of the workforce has been undermined by the fact that other production lines are being closed when workers thought there was a viable future for them.
“I will be pressing all the relevant agencies and ministers to increase their efforts to bring more jobs to Berwick.”
John Haswell, chairman of Berwick Chamber of Trade, added: “Just when it looks like the building trade has started to pick up and houses are starting to be built again you would have thought their jobs would have been safe, but it seems we can’t buck the trend of imports from eastern Europe.
“We can only hope that in the near future building companies in the UK will want the quality products that Allan Brothers are very good at manufacturing.”
The window and door specialist confirmed last week it is proceeding with a proposed restructure of its UK business.
The company will be transferring production of price sensitive, commodity window casement products to a sister plant in Poland.
It is now confirmed that 65 positions, three fewer than originally thought, will be directly affected by the restructure. More than 50% of the reduction is expected to be achieved through voluntary redundancies.
Danny Hughes, Inwido UK MD, explained: “During the consultation it became clear there were no significant viable alternatives to our original proposals.
“However, during the process we were able to reduce some of the impact on staff and the number of likely compulsory redundancies is falling daily.
“In a few months from now, combined with future investment, our Berwick facility will focus on high-value crafted products such as sliding sash windows, which we have a strong and proud heritage of manufacturing in Berwick.”
Employees and unions were told of the decision and the expected impact at a series of meetings and presentations at the company’s manufacturing site on Ord Road.
The announcement followed a month-long consultation with unions and employees that included looking at any substantive viable alternatives to a proposal outlined on April 23.
John Cosgrove, regional organiser of the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT), said: “The lads are very disappointed and feel let down by their employer.
“I think this was a done deal because the raw materials are so much cheaper in Poland. I feel the company has had this on the backburner for some time.
“It’s obviously going to have a major impact for Berwick because Allan Brothers is one of the biggest employers in the town.”
He said the union would be supporting those staff affected.
As part of Allan Brother’s commitment to developing sales the business has opened a new 440 sq m showroom and office facility in the South East of England to take advantage of the buoyancy in that region of the UK. This showroom will become a hub for an expanded sales team in the south of the UK.
Julie Porksen, prospective Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Berwick, said: “I have met many people on the doorsteps who work at Allan Brothers or who have friends and relatives there and I am very worried about the long-term impact this news will have on them and the Berwick area. I hope that the planned investment at Allan Brothers will mean that more jobs will return to the firm in the near future.”