De la Rue Plans to Close Gateshead Operations.
More than 250 jobs at risk as De la Rue plans to close Gateshead printing operations. The consultation period of a minimum of 45 days suggests more than 100 job losses are being considered.
More than 250 jobs are on the link at Gateshead’s De La Rue after the firm announced plans to axe the site’s banknote and UK passport printing operations. The move comes two years after the Gateshead site lost the contract to print the new UK passports, having printed them for 10 years.
In a controversial move, the Government assigned future printing of the new blue passports to Franco-Dutch firm Gemalto – work that has since been outsourced to Poland. Unite the union, which represents the workforce at De La Rue’s factory in Gateshead,is urging the company to reconsider the move, which puts 255 skilled workers in the region at risk of redundancy.
In its annual report De La Rue said: “In June 2020, we announced a consultation process to commence shortly on a proposal to cease banknote printing at our Gateshead site and we will start to engage in a collective consultation process with impacted employees.
“Under the proposal, the Company will retain some core services and roles at the site.
“Subject to the consultation process, we would expect the banknote printing operations to cease at Gateshead by the end of this calendar year.
“In addition, the UK Passport operations, also in Gateshead, will cease operations during H1 2020/21 as the contract transfers to a new supplier.”
“We remain committed to a strong, growing Currency business, and will continue to print banknotes in the UK as well as at its international sites. Following a period of transition and the re-location of equipment from Gateshead to other sites, the proposal ensures that De La Rue has the same, or more, capacity as today, but operates with four currency print factories, down from five.
“This transition period is expected to be complete by the end of H2 2020/21. The consultation period is expected to last a minimum of 45 days.
“We plan on giving regular updates on the progress of our turnaround plan via our website.”
De la Rue’s announcement comes as it reveals a plan to raise £100m in new equity after publishing full-year accounts, showing plummeting revenues and profits, with revenue tumbling 17% to £426.7m and adjusted operating profit falling 61% to £23.7m.
When De la Rue was producing UK passports, there were over 500 workers employed at the Gateshead site.
Unite said that last year’s closure of one line made 170 workers redundant and a further 80 workers will be made redundant this month as passport production finally ends.
The union has argued that the UK should follow the lead of other countries and passport production should be a matter of national security and exempt from the standard tender process.
The Gateshead plant has long been regarded as a flagship site and the loyal workforce has frequently travelled abroad to provide expert training as the company expanded overseas.