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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 July, 2005, 13:46 GMT 14:46 UK
'Optimism' over jobs threat firm
The Christie Tyler has always involved firms operating under different names and brand
Nearly 2,000 jobs are under threat
Potential buyers are already expressing interest in furniture group Christie Tyler after the firm went into receivership, a union official said.

Managers of the group, which has five factories in Wales and two in England, met unions on Tuesday to discuss the threat to some 1,850 jobs.

Afterwards Alun Rappell, of the GMB union, said there was "a slight glimmer at the end of the tunnel".

The business had been advertised for sale in the Financial Times on Tuesday.

Receivers Ernst and Young have said the Christie Tyler Group had been struggling in the face of international competition and because of falling retails sales.

Following the meeting between managers and unions on Tuesday, Mr Rappell said he was much more optimistic about the possibility of a buyer being found than he had been on the day of the announcement.

Union official Alun Rappell
Mr Rappell said he was feeling more optimistic about the situation

"Yesterday morning was a devastating morning. Today there's a slight glimmer at the end of the tunnel," he added.

"As far as we're concerned, we're giving the receivers as much support as possible to try and secure what we believe to be a highly-skilled workforce."

"We now have to move forward. There are a number of steps we now have to undertake," Mr Rappell said.

"One of the first major steps is securing our customer base because without (that) we cannot carry on trading."

Hope

The Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) has said it is hopeful, that some if not all, Christie Tyler jobs can be saved.

Economic Development Minister Andrew Davies has pledged support and possibly money to any viable project that can rescue the factories.

In an emergency statement in the Chamber, Mr Davies told AMs that it was premature to talk about any job losses. He said the receivers hope to sell all the businesses as going concerns.

He said that WAG through the WDA, had already begun to help the receivers by identifying prospective buyers and passing on any leads to Ernst and Young.

Adding that the WAG is ready to support any viable project and will consider offering grants or supporting management buyouts.

Optimism has also been expressed among staff at the company's Bridgend factory.

Worker Jackie Thomas said: "There's gloom there but there's hope there. There's always going to be hope.

"We're a good, professional team in here, hard-working people who know their jobs, they've done it for years.

JOBS BREAKDOWN
Christie Tyler lorry
Christie-Tyler, South Wales West Division Bridgend 478
Deeside Furniture, Holywell 420
Cambria Mobel, Pontypridd 391
Lebus Furniture, Scunthorpe 391
Wyvern Furniture, Kidderminster 181
Earlybird Furniture, Kidderminster 59
CT Distribution, Blackwood 40
Christie Tyler, Bridgend 32

"We just hope there's someone out there that will help us."

The Christie Tyler Group has more than 1,500 workers at factories across the UK, mostly in Wales but it includes nearly 400 at Scunthorpe and 140 workers at plants in Kidderminster in Worcestershire.

The company, which has already announced that its two Flintshire factories are closing, has plants in Bridgend, Pontypridd and Blackwood.

However, the receivers said they were hoping to sell the manufacturer as a going concern.

The Pontypridd plant has already been sold to Sofa Brands International, which owns Parker Knoll and G Plan, safeguarding 400 workers' jobs.

Chief executive Scott Malvenan said: "Sofa Brands International is a very strong viable group.

"It will be a market leader in the UK and we are looking forward to delivering high quality, desirable upholstery products to our customers.

"We believe the market will remain challenging, but we are in a strong position to work together with our customers, suppliers and employees to ensure our mutual future success."




SEE ALSO:
Politicians urge 'hope and help'
04 Jul 05 |  Wales politics


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