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Last Updated: Monday, 4 July, 2005, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
1,850 furniture jobs under threat
Work on sofa fabric (library)

A south Wales-based furniture manufacturer has gone into receivership, threatening 1,850 jobs.

Christie Tyler has plants in Bridgend, Pontypridd, Blackwood, Kidderminster and Scunthorpe, and had already said it was closing two Flintshire factories.

Receivers Ernst & Young said the group had struggled with international competition and falling retail sales.

The firm will be put on sale on Tuesday but if a buyer cannot be found, 1,850 workers could lose their jobs.

This is the third time since last week that south Wales jobs market has been dealt a blow - another 800 jobs in manufacturing in Bridgend were announced with the closure of the Sony plant and the factory that makes Altoid Mints.

The area has traditionally been a major centre of the British furniture industry but mass market suppliers have been taking a hammering from cheaper imports.

Also, fewer people are buying sofas now as they cut back on spending.

A Christie Tyler lorry at Bridgend
Christie Tyler, Bridgend 32
Cambria Mobel, Pontypridd 391
Christie-Tyler, South Wales West Division Bridgend 478
CT Distribution, Blackwood 40
Deeside Furniture, Holywell 420

Bridgend-based Christie Tyler has already announced several hundred redundancies in recent years in Cardiff and Ebbw Vale and said it was closing its two factories on Deeside, which employ 400.

On Monday it emerged that the entire company, including the Deeside operation, has been put into receivership.

Administrative receivers Ernst & Young said the companies that make up Christie Tyler's UK empire would go sale on Tuesday.

It added that Sofa Brands International Limited has bought the assets and order book of Pontypridd-based Cambria Mobel Limited, whose 400 employees have also transferred.

Mike Rollings, one of the joint administrative receivers, said: "We are continuing to trade the various companies on a 'business as usual' basis whilst we explore the possibility of a sale of the businesses and their assets as going concerns.

We thought we had got ourselves match fit. We were producing a high quality product very cost-efficiently
Alun Rappell, GMB

"During the period, it our intention to look to satisfy the existing customer orders that were in hand at the date of appointment."

A total of 941 work at their factories and head office in south Wales and 420 were employed in north Wales.

The remaining 489 jobs are under threat at the firm's bases in England.

GMB union organiser Alun Rappell blamed cheap imports from overseas.

'Devastating news'

"We thought we had got ourselves match fit. We were producing a high quality product very cost-efficiently," he said.

"We thought we were about to come over the brow of the hill. It has come as a total shock to GMB workers on the shop floor as well as the managers. These are very highly skilled, reasonably paid jobs, something we can ill afford to lose after the first blow of Sony last week."

Phil Lewis, who runs a newsagent used by Christie Tyler workers on the Bridgend industrial estate, said: "I've been here for 17 years as have Christie Tyler and Sony for that matter and at the moment it is just one after the other.

"They are both big local emplyers and if you take those away it doesn't say a lot for the local economy.

"It is devasting news, absolutely devastating. The trouble is, there are a lot of spin off companies which no one knows about yet, so this is just the tip of the iceberg."


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