ONE of the best-known names in the Northumberland business world is to lose more than a quarter of its staff as it faces up to the biggest losses in its 139-year history.
Hardy and Greys, which employs around 100 people and is regarded as the Rolls Royce of the fishing tackle industry, is proposing to cut 27 jobs from its headquarters in Alnwick.
Managing director Richard Sanderson has stepped down in the wake of the company’s poor performance, which saw it suffer losses of nearly £500,000 last year with forecasts of record losses by the end of 2011.
Previous managing director and non-executive director Richard Maudslay, viewed as a pioneer of new products, has returned in the interim.
The company, one of Alnwick’s largest employers, has hit choppy waters over the last two years and is forecasting its final accounts for 2011 will reveal its largest loss to date.
Hardy and Greys said redundancies will impact the Alnwick operation and not other UK subsidiaries, which includes a distribution centre in Cramlington, or its German bases.
The firm has won plaudits for its range of rods and reels and is best-known for its heritage fishing rod brand, Hardy.
A company spokesman said cost pressures and lower margins had forced bosses to make savings on overheads. A company re-organisation forms part of the proposals.
The spokesman said: “Opening discussions with our workforce about what might be 27 redundancies was a difficult decision for us, especially as our relatively new German and US operations are doing very well and winning market share.
“In the UK and Ireland, sales are also still good compared to most of our competitors, although margins have suffered.
“But the fishing tackle market is flat and we have had to revise our growth projections against a backdrop of a well-documented worldwide slowdown in consumer spending.
“Making these cost savings now, will enable us to better manage our financial position and be in a better position to take advantage of the upturn when it finally comes.”
MP for Berwick Upon Tweed Sir Alan Beith said: “Hardy and Greys is a very valued and reliable employer in Alnwick. The loss of jobs there is really sad news.
“It is almost certainly a consequence of markets across the world being in poor health at the moment.
“Hardy and Greys are big exporters and they rely on customers who use top quality equipment.
“I am not surprised that market is not strong.”
The company’s latest accounts for the year ending December 31, 2010, show that the firm made a loss of £446,000, compared to a loss of £530,000 the previous year. Turnover was £12.84m, up from £12.57m in 2009.
The report, filed in June this year, states the parent company’s banking facilities with HSBC are to be renegotiated in December. The announcement from Hardy and Grey’s comes days after Northumberland’s largest private sector, Alcan, announced it was closing its Lynemouth aluminium smelter with the loss of 515 jobs.