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Monday, 23 September, 2002, 07:53 GMT 08:53 UK
Banknote maker cuts jobs
Bank notes
Up to 350 jobs will go when the banknote printer closes
Banknote printing firm De La Rue is to cut up to 350 staff with the closure of its factory at High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.

The site prints products such as stamps, traveller's cheques and gift vouchers.

De La Rue said it was consulting the workforce and where appropriate it would look at moving existing staff to other locations.

Some of the work is to move to sites at Dunstable and Peterborough.

'Painful' closure

The company's share price fell sharply with the announcement that 2002 operating profits will fall "significantly below" last year's because of the slowdown in the world economy.

At 0850BST, the stock was down 62 pence, or 20.1%, at 246 pence.

In a statement, the company said: "Given some of the uncertainty in the general economic environment worldwide, trading in certain parts of the business continues to be slow."

Chief executive Ian Much said: "The restructuring programme... will result in a cost base which better matches the level of sales and will produce a leaner, fitter business for the future.

"The proposed closure of our High Wycombe site, while painful, is necessary to reduce capacity and deliver the required operational improvements to get the business on a firmer footing for the future."

The closure is part of a restructuring of De La Rue's security products division, following a review announced in May.

De La Rue, which employs 3,000 staff in the UK, said it had identified "significant duplication" across the businesses and would reorganise the manufacturing base to create "highly focused centres of excellence".

Lower capacity

It plans to develop its factory at Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, to focus on cheques.

A site at Dunstable, Bedfordshire, will concentrate on vouchers.

And Dulles in the US will print travellers' cheques.

The group said closure of the High Wycombe site would result in lower production capacity overall, but it would still be able to accommodate existing sales requirements for the foreseeable future.

Staff transfer

To boost the security business De La Rue also announced it was buying House of Questa, based in Byfleet, Surrey.

House of Questa, which employs 75 staff, prints postage stamps and motor vehicle tax discs.

A spokesman for De La Rue said there would hopefully be some staff transferred from High Wycombe to Byfleet.


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