Nearly 250 workers made redundant as Kirkcaldy firm Havelock International goes into administration
Kirkcaldy Town Hall - Image credit: Duncan c via Flickr
Nearly 250 workers have lost their jobs in Kirkcaldy after a furniture manufacturer that was a major employer in the Fife town went into administration.
It was announced today that 247 staff were being made redundant at Havelock International with immediate effect, just a year after the same jobs were saved when the company was bought out of administration.
Previously known as Havelock Europe, around 250 jobs were saved when the company was sold out of administration to Havelock International, a new company established by turnaround specialist Rcapital, in July 2018.
Scottish Enterprise, which had provided a loan of £3m to Havelock Europa in March 2018, agreed to write off the loan to help the sale of the company to Rcapital.
The news of the redundancies came on the same day that PwC was appointed as administrators for the company.
It looks set to end a 150-year history for the firm in the Fife town, which was set up as a carpentry business, McIntosh, in 1869, and which more recently has made furniture and fittings for shops and public buildings.
Commenting on the news, Business Minister Jamie Hepburn said: “Our immediate priority is the staff at Havelock International Ltd and we will do all we can to support them, their families and the wider community at this difficult time.
“Scottish Enterprise and partners had been working closely with Havelock International Ltd to explore all possible options, but unfortunately a positive solution could not be found to turn the company’s situation around.
“Scottish Enterprise will continue to work with all those involved to understand the potential options for the company going forward and explore all possibilities to help those workers who have been made redundant to secure alternative employment as quickly as possible.
“Our Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) initiative is engaged and providing assistance to affected staff.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and North East Fife MSP Willie Rennie said: “The loss of this many jobs will be a harsh blow to Kirkcaldy and the surrounding area.
“For workers who have given a lifetime’s service this is the worst thing that could happen.
“I hope that the Scottish Government will now work with unions and the firm to ensure that knowledge and skills are not lost.
“The government also need to ensure that large firms are paying up on time and not exploiting smaller contractors.”
Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland Lesley Laird said: “This news is hugely disappointing for the workers and their families – Havelock has a long, proud tradition and a highly skilled workforce, and Scottish Labour will do all that we can to work with the administrators and Scottish Government to find a solution to this awful news.
“There is justifiable anger about the speed which events have unfolded as it can limit the options available to resolve the situation, which in this case has left the employees with no warning and no pay.
“However, with a significant payment due for work on the AECC I believe further pressure could have been applied from the Scottish Government to make that happen or indeed to reach a resolution that would have ensured that the workforce would have been paid.
“I will continue to work with the administrators and trade unions on this and have already written to the Scottish Government to urge that all possible support is made available.”
However, GMB Scotland organiser Allison Cairns said the anger of workers at today’s announcement from Havelock was “entirely justified” and there were “serious questions to be answered” as to how the company was allowed to get to this point without the workforce being warned.
She said: “The plain fact is that this factory does not need to close.
“There is a quality product here for a buyer willing to make this business work.
"The consequences if a suitable buyer cannot be found will be simply dire for Fife, for what remains of Scottish manufacturing and worst of all for the 250 people employed here, some of whom will have worked here for a lifetime, all of whom are now faced with being left with nothing.
"GMB Scotland will do everything in our power to support and assist our members at this time."