100 jobs face the axe at Telford fencing firm as production moves to Poland
Up to 110 jobs could face the axe at a Telford fencing company as it looks to move its manufacturing operations to Poland.
Grange Fencing in Telford is entering a consultation with 110 members of staff – almost half of its 230-strong total workforce in the town – about closing its UK manufacturing operation by the end of the year.
It will retain its sales, marketing and distribution facilities in the town, but will be selling products made at its parent company's factory in Europe.
The company, which makes typical garden fencing, said the move was being considered because of changes in the UK market.
Based on Halesfield 21, the company was taken over by Stelmet in western Poland, one of the biggest makers of garden fencing in Europe, last year.
Managing director Neil Taylor said: "If our proposals are implemented, we will be extremely sorry to cease domestic production and lose the excellent manufacturing team that we have developed and maintained in Telford over many years.
"However the proposals are part of a strategy to increase production capacity and supply chain efficiency to ensure that the business can continue to grow."
Demand for higher-specification garden fences is increasing, the company said, and Grange alone does not have the technology or equipment to meet the demands of consumers.
Parent company Stelmet has made significant investments in its operations in Poland, meaning there is capacity for most of Grange's range of products to be manufactured there.
The Telford-based company is influenced to a certain extent by the weather conditions.
Grange took on an additional 20 staff in 2013 as customers sought to repair their gardens following stormy conditions, and that meant its 2014 accounts showed a big jump in revenue and profits.
Without that boost to sales, the company returned to more typical figures last year, clocking up revenues of £36.7 million, with profits of £2.3 million.
While the Shropshire-based operation remains in profit, however, the company is arguing that it needs to keep up with market trends, and suggested that its outdated Shropshire factory is not capable of continuing the company's long-term growth.
Grange was founded in 1868, and started making custom-built fencing in 1910.