Page last updated at 14:04 GMT, Thursday, 30 April 2009 15:04 UK

Last piano factory in UK to close

upright piano
Kemble pianos have been manufactured in the UK for 98 years

The UK's last piano maker, based in Milton Keynes, has announced it is closing with the loss of 90 jobs.

Kemble and Co in Bletchley has been making pianos for almost 100 years. Main shareholder Yamaha decided that it was no longer viable.

The company says it will do all it can to help the workforce following the closure in October.

From November, the Yamaha and Kemble pianos will be made at other Yamaha factories outside the UK.

'Increasing pressure'

A Yamaha spokesman said: " As the marketplace for mid-range pianos comes under increasing pressure, and in order to improve our long term competitiveness, the best solution is to fully utilise our manufacturing capacity in other locations.

"Of course Yamaha is very sorry to have to lose the dedicated and committed staff at Kemble's and we will be doing all that is possible to help them."

Brian Kemble, joint managing director of Kemble and Co and grandson of the founder, said: "It is a very sad day for my staff, the Kemble family and for manufacturing in UK.

"During the 1980s recession Yamaha rode to our rescue, and thanks to them we have continued manufacturing for another 23 years.

"We owe Yamaha a huge debt of gratitude for this."

'Difficult times'

Since 1986, when Yamaha became involved, the company has made and sold more than 120,000 pianos and won a Queen's award for exports.

The company said despite the tough economic climate sales of Kemble pianos actually increased last year.

Mr Kemble said: "My heart goes out to all my staff members who are losing their jobs in such difficult economic times.

"We are doing our best to give them support and help them get back into the job market."

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