It was a grim day for North Staffordshire yesterday as two of its major employers announced massive job cuts.
After going into administration last week Waterford Wedgwood announced that 367 workers would be made redundant, the majority at its manufacturing plant at Barlaston.
And JCB followed up a series of job cuts last year by announcing that almost 700 jobs would go at plants in Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Wrexham in North Wales.
Workers at the company had voted to reduce their hours last year in a bid to save jobs, a move which the firm said has protected over 300 employees from the threat of redundancy.
Angus Martin, joint administrator for Waterford Wedgwood, said the job losses were out of a total of 1,868 UK employees and that the redundancies affected 245 manufacturing and operations staff and 106 administration and back office workers in Barlaston.
In addition, eight employees were made redundant from the Wedgwood visitor centre and shop in Barlaston, out of a total of 39. It is thought around 600 people were employed at the site prior to last week’s administration.
A further eight workers were made redundant at two store concessions in Southport and Worthing - four from each.
Mr Martin said: “A number of these redundancies had already been announced by the company prior to our appointment and the company had also been considering further redundancies at Barlaston later in the year as part of its ongoing restructuring plan.”
Wedgwood, which can trace its origins back 250 years, collapsed after negotiations with a private equity firm for parts of the business failed.
It had struggled for years despite attempts to restructure the business, new product launches and more modern lines designed by stars such as chef Gordon Ramsay and designer Sir Terence Conran.
At JCB, production in the UK in the first three months of 2009 will be around 75 per cent lower than at the same time last year, the company revealed, while an anticipated upturn in the second quarter now shows “no sign” of materialising.
JCB chief executive Matthew Taylor said: “Customers are still struggling to buy machines because of a lack of available credit, and with Government-funded construction projects not moving forward quickly enough, this means the anticipated second quarter recovery simply won’t happen.”