Swarland Brick Company set to mothball site
A FAMILY business in Northumberland has announced plans to make staff redundant and mothball its base due to an industry slump.
The Swarland Brick Company, based near Rothbury, has revealed it is seeking to make most of its 30 staff redundant and to mothball its site due to what it calls the worst building recession since the 1940s.
Production at the site has stopped and managing director Chris Blythe is midway through a 30-day consultation period with staff representatives which is aiming to safeguard the firm’s immediate future so production can resume once business picks up.
The plant, at Thrunton, was set up in the late 1930s by Commander Vyner to create jobs for the unemployed of Tyneside. In 1942, Mr Blythe’s grandfather bought the company and he took over in the early 1980s, having worked there since 1972.
The site supplies bricks to firms across the North of England and the Midlands, and all workers live in the Alnwick area.
But sales at the site have dropped to around 50% of what they should be for the last three years.
Around 4.2 million bricks are currently sitting on site waiting to be sold – the amount the company would normally ship out in a year. But demand for materials is said to be at an all-time low and production has halted.
Mr Blythe has in past years temporarily laid off staff over winter, before re-employing them.
But now he has begun consultation on the redundancies, which would see almost all the workers laid off, and the mothballing of the site. The boss, who lives at nearby Edlingham, said: “It is a very sad day for everybody concerned, not just the company.
“The majority of staff have been here 20 years plus.”
Mr Blythe and the staff representatives have contacted Berwick Liberal Democrat MP Sir Alan Beith, the party’s MEP Fiona Hall, and local Northumberland county councillors to see if they can advise of any funding which the company could apply for. Yesterday, workers at the site told how losing their jobs would affect them.
Kiln supervisor Steve McCann, 53, of nearby Whittingham, who has worked at the site for 27 years, said: “I feel it would be very difficult to find another job, obviously it would be a big financial burden.
“I have still got a mortgage, I have got a boy at school.
“It is just a worrying time.”