19 jobs go as Oswestry hot air balloon factory closes

Oswestry | News | Published:

One of the best-known names in the world of hot air ballooning has shut the doors of its Oswestry factory after global terrorism and the strong pound chiselled away at sales.

The closure of Lindstrand Hot Air Balloons, in Maesbury Road, will see 19 workers made redundant.

Founder Per Lindstrand, who currently runs nearby business Lindstrand Technologies which is unaffected by the closure, today called the move "sad".

Bristol-based Cameron Balloons took over control of the company in 2003, but said that annual sales had dropped by a half to around £1 million in the face of an increasingly difficult trading environment.

The strength of the pound had meant that its products were 21 per cent more expensive when sold in the eurozone. And terror attacks in locations such as Egypt and Kenya had meant that the market for tourist balloons had dwindled.

Boss Don Cameron said: "Trading conditions for hot air balloons have been very bad for 18 months or so. A lot of forces had been working against Lindstrand Balloons, and the parent company Cameron Holdings had been pumping money in. But there comes a point where if you can't see light at the end of the tunnel, you can't keep doing it."

Lindstrand built the balloons used by the company's founder and avid balloonist Richard Branson in their record-breaking flights across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in 1987 and 1990 respectively. By the time of the company's sale, Mr Lindstrand said, the market was not supporting more than one balloon business, and he sold to Cameron to focus on his business making inflatable technology, such as the parachute for the Mars Rover module.

"It's sad, because it was really producing the best balloons in the world," Mr Lindstrand added. "A lot of people have been working there since the early 1980s."

The factory has now closed, and liquidators have been appointed.

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