Jobs blow for Attleborough as firm announces redundancies

Adam GrettonBreckland received a jobs blow yesterday after it emerged that one of its biggest employers was shedding more than a third of its workforce.Adam Gretton

Breckland suffered a jobs blow yesterday when it emerged that one of its biggest employers was planning to shed more than a third of its workforce.

Paint brush and decorating equipment manufacturer Hamilton Acorn has had a presence in Attleborough for more than 60 years.

But officials from the international company yesterday confirmed that it was looking to make 31 of its 75 staff redundant by moving production to Sweden and China.

The managing director of Hamilton Acorn said market pressures had forced the paint brush firm to relocate its manufacturing opera-tions overseas, but insisted that its head office would remain in Attleborough.

A 30-day consultation period began this week, which could see 46 redundancies at its base in Halford Road, with the creation of 15 new site operative positions, resulting in the net loss of 31 jobs.

Officials from the business, which is owned by Scandinavian company Anza, said its sales, marketing, warehousing and distribution would stay in Attleborough.

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The transfer of its manufacturing is expected to be completed before the end of the year and comes after its Swedish parent company opened a factory in Hangzhou, China, in 2003.

Managing director John Grayson said he was confident of Hamilton Acorn's long-term future, but the firm's margins had been hit by continuing to manufacture in the UK.

"The professional decorative trade market and UK DIY retailers continue to demand the same high-quality product, synonymous with the Hamilton brand, but at even lower cost.

"Most of our competitors established overseas production decades ago and, despite looking at all options to maintain manufactur-ing in Norfolk, it's evident that we can no longer remain competitive.

"This proposal helps safeguard the future of our Attleborough site and the local businesses which support it," he said.

Mr Grayson said the company would be looking to minimise the number of job losses through voluntary redundancies.

Vera Dale, mayor of Attleborough, yesterday said: "It is not very good news for Attleborough. We do not like to see any jobs go and it is a long-established business in Attle-borough. It is more redundancies locally and we have had quite a few. It is really quite devastating."

Hamilton Acorn, which is the third-largest manufacturer of decorating products in Europe, has been trading for almost 250 years and employs 90 people in the UK at Attleborough and south Yorkshire. It was bought by Swedish paint brush group Anza in 2001, which employs about 200 people, and has a turnover of about e40m.