Troubled glass firm's oban factory shop in shock closure

The Caithness Glass factory shop in Oban has closed in a shock move. Contractors received orders to move its contents two days before staff were told about the decision.

As First Minister Jack McConnell yesterday pledged the Scottish Executive will do all it can to help the troubled firm and its workers, local politicians condemned how the Oban closure was handled.Around 150 jobs in Perth, Oban, Wick and King's Lynn are threatened after the company that purchased the Perth-based glass makers two years ago, Royal Worcester and Spode, announced it was no longer able to provide financial support.The company was approached for comment last night, but failed to respond.Hopes had been high that all the operations would be marketed as a going concern while a new buyer is sought for the company.However, a reliable source, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Press and Journal yesterday: "A sub-contractor was asked on Monday to go in and uplift the goods from the Oban shop.He had other work to do on Tuesday and went in to the shop on Wednesday and was informed that there was nothing ready, because staff had only been told that morning."

A sign on the Oban shop door yesterday greeted potential customers with the message: "We regret that Caithness factory shop has closed."

Staff could be seen inside the locked store, where the shelves are still heavily laden with hundreds of items of glassware, preparing to start the task of packing the goods away.

A member of the five-strong Oban staff told the Press and Journal that she was not able to comment.

Asked if the other employees wanted to say anything, the woman responded: "No, we are all in the same boat."

Oban Councillor Robin Banks, depute leader of Argyll and Bute Council, said: "I feel that it's extremely insensitive to proceed in this way, without letting the staff know first what is going on."

Argyll MSP George Lyon commented: "If this is true, it's a scandalous way to treat loyal staff."

He added that it was to be hoped that someone would come forward to buy the business and open the shop again as it was vital for the Oban tourism business.

Oban Community Council Chairman Kenny MacIntyre expressed his concern too: "It's dreadful, they haven't much respect for their staff when they do these things. They should have given the shop a chance of a buyer. "

Yesterday, Jamie Stone, MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, raised the sudden closure of the firm with Mr McConnell during First Minister's questions in the Scottish Parliament.

He highlighted the importance of retaining jobs in the far north and pressed for government assistance.

Mr McConnell replied: "We all agree that Caithness Glass is a quality product that all Scotland can be proud off.

"I am very keen to give Jamie Stone the assurance that not only the enterprise network, but the enterprise department will give every assistance to local communities to secure alternative employment or alternative owners."

600450 Troubled glass firm's oban factory shop in shock closure
Date: 1 March 2004

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