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The BBC's Richard Wells
"Trading has been hard for some time now"
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The BBC's Ian Reeve
"This might actually accelerate the chances of the yard being sold"
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Wednesday, 25 July, 2001, 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK
Cammell Laird to be mothballed
Cammell Laird shipyard
No buyers have been found for the two shipyards
Cammell Laird shipyards are to be mothballed when work runs out next week, receivers have announced.

Contracts at Birkenhead on Merseyside and on Tyneside will both end next Tuesday, leaving both yards with no work and more than 500 workers facing redundancy.

Receivers said that it was now "unlikely" that the yards could be sold as going concerns.

A statement from PricewaterhouseCoopers said: "In these circumstances the receivers will have no option but to mothball the yards, retaining a skeleton staff to maintain them until they are sold."

Cammell Laird called in receivers in April and announced more than 600 job cuts in the UK this year after several cancelled orders devastated its fragile business.

People will have to look elsewhere for work and that will have a knock-on effect for businesses in the area

Charlie Leonard, GMB union
The company blamed much of its financial problems on a U-turn by cruise firm Costa Crociere over a 50m ship-lengthening deal.

Union leaders from the two yards were told of the care-and-maintenance plans at a meeting in Birkenhead.

Charlie Leonard, regional organiser for the GMB union in Merseyside, said the move would deliver a "massive blow" to the local economy.

He said: "Only around 20 people will be kept on at the yard and almost 400 jobs will be lost.

"People will have to look elsewhere for work and that will have a knock-on effect for businesses in the area."

Swift move

He urged the team behind a management buyout of the Birkenhead site to move swiftly to preserve Cammell Laird.

He said: "We are being told by the buyout team that they will make an offer imminently.

"We are telling them to move quickly to save the jobs."

Laird blames the Costa Crociere deal for their problems
Meanwhile a managment buyout bid to takeover Laird's yard in Tyneside has already foundered.

About 160 workers at the North-east site are pinning their hopes on the yard being bought by another shipbuilder.

Jimmy Skivington, GMB organiser in the North-east, said: "I'm still hopeful that a buyer will be found.

"I don't believe this latest announcement was a major shock because the situation was being discussed for several weeks.

"I still believe a buyer will be found."

'Continue trading'

Laird's yard in Birkenhead will close next week once refits to HMS Argus and Peregrine are completed.

The Tyneside yard will be mothballed following the end of repairs to the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Fort Grange next week.

Ian Stokoe, from PricewaterhouseCooper, said: "Since their appointment more than three months ago, the receivers have endeavoured to continue trading the Cammell Laird business with the overriding aim of achieving a going-concern sale.

"In this process the receivers have received tremendous support from the workforce in what have been very difficult circumstances and from the Ministry of Defence which has continued to award work to the group.

"The receivers have successfully undertaken a number of new contracts for the MoD and commercial owners during the receivership period in order to provide every opportunity to achieve going concern sales.

Buyers deterred

"Unfortunately, despite these efforts, work will run out around the end of July.

"In these circumstances the receivers will have no option but to 'mothball' the yards, retaining a skeleton staff to maintain them until they are sold.

"Although the receivers have discussed a going-concern sale with many interested parties, it now appears clear that all have been deterred by the possible liabilities they might incur under the Transfer of Undertakings legislation.

"As such, a going-concern sale now looks unlikely.

"Although this is not the outcome that so many have tried very hard to produce, the receivers still hope that the yards will be sold very quickly to a purchaser that will ultimately use them to re-create employment in the ship repair and conversion sector."

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See also:

27 Jun 01 | Business
Management bid for Cammell yard
23 May 01 | Business
Former boss 'bids' for Cammell yard
16 May 01 | Business
Cammell Laird sacks more workers
18 Apr 01 | Business
Cammell Laird jobs axed
12 Apr 01 | Business
Cammell Laird seeks rescuer
12 Apr 01 | Business
Cammell Laird calls in receivers
11 Apr 01 | Business
Cammell Laird blow will end era
11 Apr 01 | Business
Cammell Laird: what went wrong
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