Double jobs blow in Fakenham

THE economic gloom deepened in Fakenham this week as two major employers announced more than 70 jobs could be lost as they struggled to cope with industry downturns.

THE economic gloom deepened in Fakenham this week as two major employers announced more than 70 jobs could be lost as they struggled to cope with industry downturns.

A 30-day staff consultation is under way which is expected to see about 60 redundancies shared between Fisher & Son in Fakenham and its sister company H Bullen & Son in Cromer - two of the oldest names in the Norfolk's construction industry.

And there was another blow as vegetarian food producer Linda McCartney announced 17 jobs could be lost in manufacturing cutbacks. The news comes just six weeks after company bosses said soaring sales of the relaunched brand would give security for the 180-strong workforce on Holt Road.

Stuart Cuttler, president of the Fakenham Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said the potential redundancies would be devastating for workers and their families, but urged the business community to stay positive to ride out the economic storm.

“Quite simply, it could have a dramatic effect on Fakenham,” he said. “There are a lot of businesses which are teetering on the brink

and it does not look good.

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“These companies have been here before and downsized in the past, it is a natural process. But if 60 people are leaving one company, then it is not 60 people it is 60 families being affected, and those people will need support from the banks for their mortgages.

“But we need to remain positive that the housing market will bounce back, people will buy more goods and see that while there is this temporary gloom, it will pass. The key for Fakenham is that it needs to attract expansion with new houses. That will bring jobs to places like Fishers for the building industry, with the knock-on effect for the local economy.”

Fisher & Son has been operating in Fakenham since 1885 and has worked on a number of high-profile projects, including the Prince of Wales Stand at Fakenham Racecourse.

The firm is part of the R G Carter group, which has already shed about 96 jobs at its Drayton head office at the end of last year as Norfolk's building activity dwindled.

R G Carter declined to comment but Brian Rye, regional organiser of builder's union UCATT, said it was unclear what proportion of the workforce at Fisher and Bullen faced redundancy.

Meanwhile, the Linda McCartney factory's parent company Hain Frozen Foods said, despite reporting a 32pc rise in sales of the meat-free products in November, falling demand meant production hours needed to be cut.

The company is also conducting a consultation which will leave some employees out of work and some with reduced shifts.

A company spokesman said: “Hain Frozen Foods is committed to protecting the long-term future of the Fakenham site and is taking all necessary steps to ensure that that the facility is financially secure.

“This will potentially mean a reduction of around 17 positions, and a new shift pattern for the remaining employees.”

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