Page last updated at 16:03 GMT, Thursday, 16 July 2009 17:03 UK

Pen factory closure plan revealed

Parker Pen facility in Newhaven
Work will shift to the firm's factory in Nantes, France

Plans to close the Parker Pen factory in East Sussex, resulting in the loss of up to 180 jobs, have been revealed.

Newell Rubbermaid said it had started a consultation on the closure of the site in Newhaven following a review of its fine writing business.

Local Norman Baker MP said it would be a "bitter blow" for the town and urged the firm to reconsider its decision.

If the proposal goes ahead the factory, which has been open since the 1940s, will shut by the autumn of 2010.

Newell Rubbermaid said work that was carried out in Newhaven would be shifted to its site in Nantes, France.

'Terrible day'

The firm said its Fradley Park site in Lichfield, Staffordshire, would remain open and it expected to continue to employ about 350 people in the UK.

Mr Baker, who is MP for Newhaven, said: "This is a terrible day for Newhaven, and particularly of course for the employees of Parker Pen and their families.

"I am writing to the management of the company to ask them urgently to reconsider their decision but, to be honest, I don't hold out much hope.

"I will also be writing to the government, asking them to ensure a package of support is now provided for Newhaven."

He added: "Parker Pen has for many years been the flagship employer in Newhaven, and this is a bitter blow for the town which is already much worse hit by the recession than other towns nearby. It is also the end of an era."

'Staff support'

Andy Smith, director of manufacturing at Parker Pen, said: "This proposal has been a difficult one to make and we realise the potential impact on our employees, their families and the local community.

"We wanted to tell our employees about this now, nearly a year in advance, so that we can fully consult on the proposals and if necessary they can make the transition to new employment."

He added: "I want to reassure all our employees that during the forthcoming period the company will ensure that they will be treated with the utmost respect.

"Should the proposals be confirmed, staff will receive terms that generally exceed statutory requirements, plus access to support including an outplacement program to assist in identifying alternative employment."

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