Union warning as carpet firm folds

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The Independent Online

The UK's biggest carpet manufacturer followed PowerHouse into administrative receivership yesterday, as did United Milk, the country's largest milk processing plant, putting hundreds more jobs at risk.

The UK's biggest carpet manufacturer followed PowerHouse into administrative receivership yesterday, as did United Milk, the country's largest milk processing plant, putting hundreds more jobs at risk.

Carpets International, which trades under a range of brand names such as Kosset, Abingdon and Wilton Royal, appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers as administrative receivers. The Bradford-based company operates from seven locations across the UK and employs about 1,200 people.

Staff were alerted to the company's financial failure yesterday afternoon. Union leaders warned that hundreds of jobs across northern England, Scotland and Wales were at risk.

Peter Booth, the national organiser of the Transport and General Workers' Union, said he was seeking a meeting with PwC "at the earliest opportunity". He added: "We believe there could be a future for this business but the decision to seek administration, as always, was taken without consultation with employees."

Carpets International, which supplies a number of high street retailers, has an annual turnover of about £100m and exports to countries all over the world.

Roger Marsh, the joint administrative receiver, said he was holding "urgent talks with key suppliers and customers ... to seek their support to allow trading to continue". He said the workforce would be informed of PwC's strategy "in the days ahead". He said the company had suffered in the last 12 months from falling demand in the UK market.

Mr Marsh was also appointed to oversee the collapse of Wiltshire-based United Milk, which has put 125 jobs at risk. The milk processing company, which has an annual turnover of £100m, ran into trouble after it began trading from a new plant, which left it with insufficient cash to cover day-to-day costs.

The Dairy Farmers of Britain said it was working with the First Milk and Milk Link co-operatives to prepare an offer.

Separately, Top Notch, which operates health clubs, said it was in crisis-talks with its bankers.

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