ANOTHER bitter jobs blow has hit Langholm after 10 redundancies were announced at the dyehouse, FTS Dyers.
The company’s customers have been badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and orders have fallen.
The devastation to the airline industry especially has resulted in orders drying up.
Frank Steele, managing director, said he was one of the employees who would take redundancy.
He told the E&L Advertiser: “I’m having to take costs out of the business because of the reduction in orders and prospective orders from our customer base.
“I have to make the company viable by taking out costs. I think 10 people will go and one of them is myself.
“It’s a way of trying to save some jobs and make the business profitable.
“I don’t see it improving at all until next year. All my customers are in the same boat and are doing the same thing; taking out costs and reducing numbers.
“One company in Yorkshire is making 60 jobs redundant so it’s pretty serious.”
The redundancies at the dyehouse will leave 20 employees, some of them part-time, on site. A consultation and a selection process are underway.
Frank added: “I know everyone’s circumstances and I know them all. Everyone is having a difficult time.”
Orders are about 35 per cent of what they would normally be.
Frank said: “It’s as bad as that. Customers have missed the whole of the autumn / winter selling season so have all this stock which they won’t be able to shift until another season.
“I have one or two customers who are okay but, in the main, they’re devastated. In total, I have about 40 customers, all in the UK except a couple in Ireland, but some of them are very small.
“About 12 of them are a decent size and they’re the ones with the problems.”
One of the hardest-hit is the airline industry.
Frank said: “One of my customers is a big supplier of aircraft upholstery. No-one is refurbishing planes or ordering new planes.
“We did a lot of developments on aircraft carpeting and were ready to do some bulk work but everything’s on hold.
“There’s no sign of it improving at all. Infection rates are still growing. It’s a big worry.”
Other customers are part of the tourism industry, selling scarves, throws and tartan goods in cities like Edinburgh but there has been no trade this summer, particularly from overseas.
Frank added: “This situation is really sad for me. I know all my staff personally.
“I’m past retirement age and I’m comfortable but I wish I could do more for them.
“I’ll be handing over to James Blackburn and Ali Little, both of whom I’ve trained.
“They’ve done a fantastic job and are capable of running it at this level.
“They know the customers and I’m very confident they can do the job. They’re very knowledgeable now and dedicated to making the company a success.”
Frank, who chairs the business sub-group of the Langholm Alliance, said: “This is another thing lost to the economy of Langholm.
“It’s a big problem because we can’t do anything just now; COVID-19 has put a block on things.
“I’m really pleased that Nicol Nicolson has been appointed the alliance’s community enterprise manager. He’s a local person who knows people and he will fight for them.”