More than 200 jobs to be lost at Norwich manufacturing firm with 100-year city history
PUBLISHED: 19:04 09 January 2019 | UPDATED: 14:26 10 January 2019
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Norwich’s manufacturing industry has been dealt another blow as it was announced 200 jobs were set to go at a business with nearly 100 years of history in the city.
Heatrae Sadia has been manufacturing water heating and heating products in Norwich since the company was established in 1920.
But parent company Baxi Heating UK announced on Wednesday that 204 roles looked set to go at the company’s Hurricane Way site which would close.
Chloe Smith, Conservative MP for Norwich North, said: “This is terrible news and my first thought is with the staff who will be disappointed, upset, and anxious.
“I ask the company to conduct the process ahead sympathetically and as supportively as possible for the staff affected. Although this appears to be an internal commercial decision I stand by to help in any way I can as the constituency MP.
“It is concerning for our city, coming after some other blows to manufacturing such as Britvic and Colman’s but we do have a strong local and national economy more broadly and I believe we should remain positive about the jobs and opportunities that there are in Norwich.”
More than 300 workers at Britvic and Unilver, which makes Colman’s Mustard, are to lose their jobs when the companies leave Norwich by the end of this year. But plans for a new Unilver processing plant was tipped to create 25 roles.
While Norwich South MP, Labour’s Clive Lewis, said: “After Unilever and Britvic announced they were quitting Norwich, hundreds thousands of local people joined this paper’s campaign to keep those jobs here. We don’t want to be turned into another city that doesn’t make things anymore.
“There is an alternative to this economic system and this government that always puts short term profits before people. With a decent industrial strategy that puts the many before the few, cities like Norwich could become known for making the things we need to lead the world in a new green industrial revolution.
“I know that’s of little comfort now to the 200 Norwich workers who are losing their jobs but if we want to stop coming back to this Groundhog Day of job loss announcements, we need to seriously reprogramme our economy.”
Baxi Heating UK said the production of water cylinders and electric water heaters undertaken at the Heatrae Sadia site would move to Preston.
In a statement the company said the changes were “necessary to make the company stronger and to place it in the best position to face the future challenges and opportunities in the UK’s heating industry” but it recognised the “significant implications” on staff.
Paul Kendrick, Labour city councillor for Catton Grove - where the factory is based - said: “It’s very disappointing, I feel very sorry for the workers concerned and their families. It’s not a nice way to start the New Year.”
Mr Kendrick said he would be speaking to council officers to see if there was any support he could offer and he said it was worrying to see more job losses in the city.
He added: “Working in the private sector myself, away from the council, it’s a very difficult time. There’s a very low level of confidence out there, especially with Brexit.”
Leader of Norwich City Council Alan Waters said the authority would fight to keep the factory in the city.
Mr Waters said he was “shocked and saddened” by the news and that he would be seeing what could be done to persuade the company to stay.
He said: “I had visited the factory three years ago and it really did business with an international reputation. I was impressed by the enthusiasm and the skills and the workforce’s contribution to the city.”
He said it seemed the situation had echos of that with Unilever, of a city company being bought up by a international firm, and then when cuts were made Norwich suffered.
Mr Waters said not only would he contact the Norwich factory and the trade unions, but also the headquarters in Warwick.
He said: “We need to know if it’s an option to save the factory to understand the situation and then we will see what can be done.”
He added: “It concerns me that we are losing manufacturing jobs in these sectors. The Norwich economy is a very diverse one but the factories, those are very productive factories.”