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Focus demise blamed as Norian Beds goes into administration

Employees at Norian Beds in Trowbridge turned up for work as normal on Monday 17th October – only to be told that the company, and their jobs, no longer existed.

The firm’s 80 factory staff arrived at the site, in Avon Way on the Canal Road Trading Estate, to be told the company will enter liquidation, and they would have to apply for redundancy payments.

Owner Pete Gair blamed the collapse on the company being unable to secure new investments after they were owed £320,000 following the collapse of DIY giant Focus earlier this year.

Employee Mark Lamb, 30, of Staverton, said he had suspected there might be problems in the company as stock deliveries had become inconsistent, but the announcement came as a surprise.

“We just got into work and were told we shouldn’t start working. Then the manager came down and told us all the company no longer exists,” he said. “Everyone was in shock, I barely spoke to anyone else there about it.

“We were told to come back in on Tuesday to see whether we would get any redundancy payments, and when we did they gave us details to apply to the Government for them.

“In the back of my head I had realised the bigger picture wasn’t so brilliant, some stock didn’t turn up on time, but I never expected this.”

Another employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We were expecting short time or something, I thought they just had a bit of a problem meeting the bills. We haven’t had any apologies or anything like that, I feel very hurt that we weren’t given any warning. We spent the last week working on a big order for Airsprung and we weren’t allowed to go home until it was finished. Now we aren’t even getting paid for it.”

Mr Gair said he hadn’t informed staff of the firm’s financial troubles as he had been confident a solution could be found.

“Back in April when Focus DIY went bust they owed us about £320,000. Since then we have been searching for fresh investments and banking facilities but it is a difficult climate out there,” he said.

“We were paying interest and charges on a loan from Barclays. I was hoping, and quite confident, that we could find a re-financing solution, but it wasn’t to be. When liquidation takes place all forms will be completed and our former employees will get help claiming from the state scheme, which covers lieu of notice, holiday pay and redundancy. It is a difficult climate for our staff, but we have competitors in the area who I guess will pick up business we can no longer do, and I know some staff have already found work.”

A Barclays Bank spokesman said: “We have been working with Norian for more than a year. It was their management’s opinion that the company was no longer a viable going concern.

“It was their decision to let staff go and earlier this week they voluntarily chose to lodge notice to appoint administrators.”

A fleet of 14 lorries emptied the site of stock on Monday.

The 27-year-old firm, which moved to the former Avon Rubber site in Trowbridge from premises in Holt and Atworth in 2004, employs a total of 130 people, manufacturing beds, mattresses and soft furnishings.

Wessex Chamber of Commerce Association chief executive Mike Williams said: “It is extremely disappointing news. This comes after the departure of Vodafone and Virgin from the town, and at a time when there are so few vacancies we are very concerned about the workforce.”

Source : Will Frampton –

21 October 2011
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