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Buy-out to save jobs

SEVENTY jobs have been saved after bosses teamed up to buy an engineering company.

EXCLUSIVE by Eleanor Harte

SEVENTY jobs have been saved after bosses teamed up to buy an engineering company.

There were fears that Allspeeds, which has been based on Atlas Street, Clayton-le-Moors, since 1960, would face closure after its parent company, the Norfolk-based GEI Group, made plans to sell off the building.

But directors at the factory, which produces hydraulic machinery for use in a diverse range of industries, stepped in to buy the company in a bid to secure the future of its 70-strong workforce.

Managing director Mike Hollyhead, finance director John Laycock and engineering director Rodney Sleigh have made a "significant investment" in the firm, along with a fourth shareholder, Canada-based businessman Bob Grant.

Mr Hollyhead denied widespread rumours the factory was set to close and said he hoped that the directors' combined expertise would help the business to expand into new markets, including North America.

He said: "The GEI Group primarily makes packaging and processing machinery but we don't do that type of work. As a result, we didn't really fit in with the group's plans - putting our jobs at risk.

"If we hadn't bought the factory, it was in danger of being sold to somebody who didn't understand the industry and it could have been shut down, with the production moved to other factories.

"But we know the business inside out and we know what it is capable of. We have stuck our necks out financially to hold on to 70 jobs in this area."

Mr Hollyhead said that the fourth shareholder, Mr Grant, was one of the firm's biggest customers and he had invested in the buy-out to ensure continued production of the machinery he bought.

He added that the company, which produced a pioneering mechanical speed variator in the 1970s, hoped to secure further investment to develop its three main products - hydraulic cutters, sub-sea pumps and hi-tech aluminium jacks.

He said: "Because GEI has been looking to sell the company, it has invested nothing in it for years. We're now going to have to acquire new machinery, which is expensive but will bring the company forward.

"We have set out to conserve the jobs that are here and expand into a bigger marketplace. It would be smashing if we could bring in more jobs but we have got to be realistic. We have got to walk before we can run."


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