Bridon unwinds rope factories

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BRIDON, the Doncaster-based wire and fibre rope maker, is to shed 95 jobs in the first stage of a strategic move to manufacture less wire and rope itself and to distribute more materials from low-cost overseas sources.

Three businesses - Fox Wire, Johnson & Nephew (Ambergate) and Bridon Ropes SA in Belgium - will lose their separate identities and operate under the banner of Bridon Ropes. About 30 jobs will be lost.

The Bridon Fishing ropery in Beverley, Humberside, is to be closed with the loss of 51 jobs. Production will be transferred to modern facilities in Retford, Nottinghamshire, and Willington Quay, Tyne and Wear. Bridon Ropes is shutting its Gateshead Service Centre, which employs 14, and the business is to be moved to Willington Quay.

Bridon, which will have cut 1,060 jobs, or more than 20 per cent of its workforce, in the past two years, has been conducting a wide-ranging review of its product portfolio in recent months.

It is trying to identify higher value-added products that are worthwhile to manufacture. Some lower-priced wire and rope products would be shed under the plan, which is due to be finalised by the end of June, while the distribution of cheap imported products from Asia and Eastern Europe would be stepped up.

Yesterday's reorganisation news, which will lead to an exceptional charge of pounds 1m in the half-year to 30 June, is the first fruit of this examination.

Brian Clayton, chief executive, said that the incorporation of three separate businesses under the banner of Bridon Ropes would simplify the planning and location of wire and rope production in the future.

'Over time we will be producing less product ourselves and more jobs will go. As we drop more products off the bottom end of our range we will finish up with another vacated site'. Bridon rose 3p to 100p.