Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Tuesday, 3 March 2009

305 jobs to go at Indesit factory

Indesit in Bodelwyddan
The Indesit plant employs 305 workers at Kinmel Park, Bodelwyddan

More than 300 jobs are set to go with the closure of the Indesit washing machine factory in Denbighshire.

In a statement, the company blamed the "continuing decline" in the market for the plan to close the factory at Kinmel Park in Bodelwyddan.

It said closing the plant was the only "feasible" option for the company to remain competitive in the UK.

The union Unite said it had offered Indesit alternatives to closure, but the company had rejected them.

Alwyn Rowlands, of Unite, said the announcement had come as no surprise.

He added: "They [Indesit] have been mulling this one over for the last three or four months, and today they have announced that the factory will close as of 31 July.

Workers at Indesit were not surprised that the plant in Denbighshire is to close at the end of July

"We will begin consultation with the company because as far as we're concerned we have put alternative proposals in front of them which would have safeguarded jobs at Bodelwyddan.

"But clearly, they wanted to close it irrespective of anything.

"We will continue to put forward those alternative proposals but if closure is inevitable, then we will do everything we can to help those affected."

Mr Rowlands said Bodelwyddan's position had not been helped by the fact Indesit recently opened a factory in Poland.

He added: "Are they closing Bodelwyddan because of the UK market, or because they need to provide numbers for Poland?"

Carlos Ramos, UK manufacturing director for Indesit said: "We are extremely proud of what is a very skilled and committed workforce at Kinmel Park, and it is with much regret that we have had to make this proposal.

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"Despite our efforts over the last seven years, investing over 30m and aligning production capacity to match market demand, the continuing decline in the market for Kinmel Park's products leads us to believe that the situation is unsustainable.

"Due to this the company is now proposing to close the factory."

The company, which also makes the Hotpoint brand, blamed a drop in demand for washing machines and increased manufacturing costs.

Indesit employs about 2,000 people - including 305 at Bodelwyddan - and claims to be the UK's largest "white goods" company by market share.

There are also factories in Somerset and Peterborough.

It said the announcement followed discussions with trade union representatives, and it would continue with a formal consultation with unions and employees to "mitigate the effects of this proposal".

The Unite union had recently expressed concerns about the north Wales plant's future, in the wake of a company review.

'Black day'

The Welsh Assembly Government said it would "do everything within our power to preserve these jobs".

In a statement, it added: "We are very disappointed by this announcement, particularly given the efforts made at the site to try and retain these jobs."

Clwyd West MP David Jones said it was a "very black day for north Wales," and he had written to the Department for Work and Pensions and the Welsh Assembly Government to request support to help staff find re-employment.

He added: "Hotpoint has been a major employer in this area for many years. Generations of the same family, in some cases, have worked for the company.

"In the current economic climate, it will not be easy to find new work for those who are about to be made redundant. "However, I intend to work with the Hotpoint management and the unions with a view to seeing what can be done to minimise the impact on the workforce."

North Wales AM Eleanor Burnham called for any affected workers to be supported.

She added: "Indesit is one of the main employers in the area and closing this factory at Kinmel Park will be a hard blow for the economy of North Wales.

"This is an area that depends on manufacturing jobs."

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