Dozens of workers at one of Birmingham’s oldest furniture manufacturers have been laid off without pay after the firm collapsed into insolvency in a cash-flow crisis.
Workers at Roc Furniture Ltd in Great Barr – which has been trading for over 60 years – were sent home after administrators were called into the Hamstead Industrial Estate company.
Staff say they face a bleak future after being told the company had run out of money, with some said to be owed a month’s wages.
One worker, who asked not to be named, said: “They called everybody into the office last week and said ‘we have no money, we cannot pay you.’
“They laid everybody off and have kept on a shoestring staff of around 15 to finish off the orders. It’s terrible for people here, Roc has been going since 1947.
“I’m owed £2,500 in wages but I’m never going to see that again. Staff had suspected for a while that something was wrong but the severity of the situation has come as a big shock.
“There are some long-serving people at Roc – some have got 20 years’ service with the company. It’s one of the oldest furniture manufacturing companies of its type in the area.”
Andrew Wall, managing director of the collapsed firm, confirmed Birmingham-based insolvency specialists FRP Advisory had been appointed administrators.
“Roc Furniture Ltd has gone into administration. There was a workforce of about 75 here and approximately 15 to 20 have been retained at the moment.
“The company is looking to be sold out of administration and the business is continuing to process orders as normal. It is still trading at present.”
Mr Wall said the firm had been hard hit by government cuts.
“Between 60 and 65 per cent of the business comes from the public sector and that has affected things quite dramatically.”
Roc Furniture has provided office furniture for the past 60 years to a range of government departments throughout the UK.
Clients include Severn Trent Water, Oxfordshire Council, Warwick University, Worcestershire Council, Russells Hall Hospital at Dudley, Brunel University, the Home Office and Middlesex University.
The firm invented the adjustable dentist’s chair in 1951 and an adjustable typist’s chair.
In a New Year message to staff, Mr Wall said: “It was a little hectic pre-Christmas with us seeing an excellent December for sales intake and billings. We are positive about 2011 that, although challenging, we see it being an excellent year for Roc.
“As part of shaping the business to meet the challenges of 2011 you will see changes. We are passionate about making our customer service unrivalled in the industry, maximising our sales opportunities and continuing our development of Roc for everyone.”
Another worker said: “It was a fantastic place to work and this is a great loss to the local community.
“They provided the public and private sector with office and residential furniture and had a number of large framework agreements for universities.”