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32 jobs to go at Lisnaskea’s P. Clarke & Sons

August 19, 2015 10:42 am

The entrance to Clarke Group head office outside Lisnaskea RMGFH101

 

 

THIRTY-TWO jobs are setto go at Lisnaskea quarrying and construction firm P Clarke & Sons.

The company appointed administrators on Friday and has officially been bought out by Magherafelt firm FP McCann.

In last week’s paper concerns were raised by trade union Unite that “more than 20 jobs” would be lost at the  Lisnaskea company after staff received notices of redundancy.

This week unfortunately those fears have been realised, with 32 of the 90 staff set to lose their jobs.

Directors at Clarke’s have blamed ‘increased pressure on the available working capital due to the adverse Euro exchange rate, the ongoing reduction in Road Service/Government work and several unprofitable contracts’ for going into administration.

Immediately following their appointment on Friday , the joint administrators  Michael Jennings and Brian Murphy of BDO Northern Ireland and Danny Dartnaill of BDO LLP confirmed the sale of the company to FP McCann Ltd, following a formal sales and marketing process, which has been undertaken in recent weeks.

The sale has secured 58 jobs at the firm and the business will continue to trade new ownership and with the continued support of the existing senior management team.

Joint administrator Michael Jennings said, “We are pleased that the business will continue to trade and that 58 jobs have been safeguarded as a result of the sale.”

Unite Regional officer with responsibility for the workforce, Gareth Scott said they had been left shocked at the scale of the impact on workers which is greater than was initially feared.

“Unite is deeply concerned that Clarke’s management failed to consult the union on these redundancies and the transfer of the business to F P McCann. Unite is the recognised trade union in Clarkes and as such the company is required to consult us on such matters.

“However our main concern at this time is our members’ jobs and the future of the Clarke’s site, we are aware that the company has been sold to FP McCann, a Magherafelt-based construction company and we have contacted them with a view to seeking an urgent meeting in regard to this announcement and the future job security of the workforce.”

Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP Tom Elliott expressed his “deep regret” at the loss of the 32 jobs at the Lisnaskea firm.

“This is a third-generation firm which was established in the 1930’s as a contracting and quarrying business and I have worked closely with the firm over recent years during the construction sector downturn.

“The loss of more than 30 jobs in the Lisnaskea area will have a major impact on the local economy.”

He added, “The Clarke firm have significantly developed over recent decades from a construction company carrying out work mainly in

Fermanagh and the surrounding area, to providing major structural schemes throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.”

‘More than 20’ jobs set to go at Lisnaskea construction firm

August 12, 2015 9:00 pm

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IN THE LATEST blow to the Fermanagh employment market more than 20 jobs are set to go at Lisnaskea quarrying and construction contractor P Clarke & Sons.  

Staff have received the devastating news from management that “at least 20 workers” have been given notice of redundancy at the third generation family owned business.

The development is yet another blow for the employment market in Lisnaskea, which has suffered over the years from a huge loss of manufacturing employment, through the closures of Adria, Dairycrest Creamery, Cheese Factory, Watson Stones and the Sir Richard Arkwright factory.

Unite Regional officer with responsibility for the workforce, Gareth Scott, confirmed that union representatives had met with workers at the firm on Monday.

“Workers at P. Clarke & Sons Ltd told us that management had given them notice of redundancy affecting at least 20 workers. We are very concerned that management has failed to contact Unite, as representatives of the workforce with a recognition agreement, to consult on these redundancies and the clear impact they will have on employees. We will not stand idly by as management fail to recognise workers’ rights and meet their obligations.

“Workers claim that they have been paid by a third party for a number of weeks and there is mounting speculation that the company may stop trading or be transferred to alternative ownership before the end of the week. It is critical that the union is engaged in this process to guarantee the interests of the workforce,” Mr Scott concluded.

Chair of one of Unite’s two Fermanagh-based branches, who was present at the meeting, Padraig Murphy, expressed the concerns of the local community:

“Over the past decades we have seen a huge loss of manufacturing employment in Lisnaskea with the closure of Adria, Dairycrest Creamery, Cheese Factory, Watson Stones and the Sir Richard Arkwright factory. Now we are facing a threat to one of the few large, remaining employers, P Clarke & Sons, at the cost of more than 90 jobs.

“This is one of the leading road surfacing operators in Northern Ireland renowned for the quality of its tarmac work as the rock quarried by the company is some of the best in the region. We can’t allow these jobs or this company to simply disappear.”

Mr Murphy called on our local political representatives to take action in order to save this pivotal local employer.

“Those facing unemployment aren’t on holidays – we need a local employment taskforce to address the employment crisis in Fermanagh and specifically in Lisnaskea.”

Jean McVitty from the Lisnaskea Chamber of Commerce said there had been rumours regarding the company going around the local community recently.

“It’s a long established firm and I’m very sorry to hear this. It will greatly affect the town of Lisnaskea and the surrounding areas. They’re in business for so long and a lot of the workers are there a long period of time.

“It seems to one blow after another this last while in Fermanagh, it will take its toll. They are excellent employers and a long established firm. I honestly am truly very sorry to hear this.”

Local Sinn Fein MLA Sean Lynch noted these were “difficult times”, but said it would be unfortunate for the Lisnaskea community if there were redundancies. Mr Lynch admitted he had heard rumours from employees.

“I was up at Croke Park at the weekend and I would meet Clarkes workers I would know and socialise with them and there was all sorts of rumours going around about third parties and things like that, I heard all the rumours.

“Obviously in a time of uncertainty rumours will flourish, I don’t know about people being paid by a third party though, I’m not aware of that.”
He added:

“Clarkes have been a local group here for generations, very much grounded in the Lisnaskea community and in life here and there are generations of workers who have worked in Clarkes, they have been a solid employer for all those years and hopefully everything would work out, but not withstanding they are difficult times for all traders.”

The Fermanagh Herald tried to contact P Clarke & Sons for comment, but at the time of going to press had not received a response.

Back in business: Hundreds compete for new Quinn jobs

August 1, 2015 1:00 pm
Sean Quinn and Kevin Lunney speak about the new Graduate Programme    RMGFH152

Sean Quinn and Kevin Lunney speak about the new Graduate Programme RMGFH152

SEAN Quinn has vowed to “take our time and build the business up” months after a group of local businessmen took ownership of the former Quinn Group.

Speaking to the Fermanagh Herald about the graduate recruitment event, the former billionaire businessman said: “It’s great, we always take great pride in being able to offer jobs to boys and girls in the local communities, it’s nice to see it re-established.

“It’s something we had going on for about 20 years and I suppose when we had all the businesses going we had jobs for male and female and secretarial work, manufacturing, accountancy, engineering, so we had a good range of jobs. We won’t have as many going forward but sure we will make the best of what we have. We will take our time and build it (the business) up.

“There seems to be a great turnout.”

Quinn director, Kevin Lunney told the students and graduates who squeezed into a tent erected outside the Packaging factory: “It shows the level of interest in something that is positive and going forward.

“As a priority we would make sure we would be in a position that we could re-launch this.

“The recruitment of talented apprentices and graduates has always been a corner stone of what this business is about. When QBRC originally set about its opportunity to see if this business could be taken into local ownership and control, it was very much a focus to launch something like this to seek to retain and keep in place the local talent we have.

“We have huge talent locally, a both graduate and apprenticeship level and we want to keep and maintain that.”

Hundreds of graduate and apprentice hopefuls from across Fermanagh descended on the Quinn Packaging factory in a bid to secure one of the 15 coveted graduate jobs.

One of the biggest employers in the county – Quinn Industrial Holdings Ltd (QIH) – earlier this month announced it is relaunching their graduate and apprenticeship programme.

Some 200 young people signed up for the scheme which was designed to help the curb the growing number of young people leaving the county.

CEO of the company, Liam McCaffrey, said they wanted to reverse that trend and retain Fermanagh’s talent pool.

Mr McCaffrey told the Fermanagh Herald he was “overwhelmed” by the turnout.

“This is testament to us, hopefully, as an employer and the desire in the community to keep as many people here as possible,” he added.

“It’s 15 reasonably high-quality jobs. These people will be well trained and will develop a career  and hopefully grow and develop to be the future management of this group and if we can run the business well then in future years who knows maybe we could increase those numbers.

“I would imagine this will become an annual event, but we haven’t made up our mind yet.  It’s hugely important to build the confidence in the area and hugely important to occasionally at least say that we have the best staff in the country.

“I believe in showing our appreciation and the strength and depth of the company and develop confidence so they can develop a career here so they don’t have to go abroad and that feeds into a very positive cycle because we get good management, we get good staff, we do well and have more money to invest, it all works.”

Among those attending the event was 16-year-old Jamie McManus, Lisnaskea who recently left St Comhghall’s College.

Speaking about the apprentice programme, he said: “I always liked big lorries and mechanising, I always thought it was a great experience to learn how it works, how it ticks and how everything goes in the machine.

“You can always learn from it and get a few ideas. It’s interesting and there’s always something that needs to be fixed. I never really thought (university) was for me, I just wanted to go out and get some work done, I never really thought going to college was my type of thing but I like this idea.

“I like it for the experience and it’s a local company and would be good to work for.”

Danny Dunbar from Belanaleck, who has graduated in mechanical engineering from Northumbria University, said: “I want to move home and I wanted to see what jobs there are before having to go overseas so I am trying to get as close to home as I can. I’m not sure what to expect but I’ll see how it goes and hopefully learn more about Quinn’s themselves and what they do for mechanical engineering and everything else.”

Hannah Parkinson, 17, from Tempo said: “I would like to learn more about the programme because I would like to go a different way from the university route as I’d like to learn practically.

“I’d like to get in to engineering. These events are good because it gives young people more opportunities rather than just the school route, it’s a more practical route than academic work.”

£23m windfarm project to bring 50 jobs to Belcoo

July 1, 2015 9:00 pm
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Where the new wind farm will be located

OVER 50 CONSTRUCTION jobs are to be created in  west Fermanagh over the coming year after £23m work was announced at the Ora More wind project, two miles north of Belcoo.

National Toll Roads (NTR plc) announced yesterday the acquisition of the 15 megawatt (MW) Ora More wind project from RES, a leading renewable energy developer.

The project is expected to enter construction in the autumn, creating over 50 construction jobs over the coming year with commissioning targeted for the final quarter of 2016.

Capital costs for the project are over £23m, which will be financed by equity and project finance debt NTR have said. Upon completion Ora More is expected to produce over 42,000 MWhr of green energy per year, enough to support the annual electricity requirements of just under 10,000 homes.

Trade unionist and Belcoo resident Donal O’Cofaigh explained that NTR consulted the local community extensively and said there was general support for the project.

“This is a very significant investment and there is a need for us all to support the investment in renewable generating capacity. The thing for us is we would like to see some employment come from this for the local community.”

Despite concerns the employment could be outsourced Mr O’Cofaigh believes the jobs are suitable for local workers.

“I think construction jobs would probably come from the local economy. I think they would be suitable for local people and if not it would be good to see the company offer training for local workers so that they could take up those opportunities.

“The only thing is they are not probably not going to be very long-term jobs, but there is a lot of work with maintenance and that’s something we have got to think about. The North-west of Ireland has huge potential for wind and wave energy and we need to be training up people to maintain and upgrade these facilities.”

NTR Chief Executive Rosheen McGuckian added: “The Ora More wind project is a significant addition to our wind fleet in Northern Ireland, where we also have twelve single turbine projects  under construction and in operation.  RES has developed an outstanding project and we are very pleased to have the opportunity to acquire Ora More at this point.  NTR intends to construct the project and operate it over its lifetime.”

The acquisition marks the first multi-turbine transaction in NTR’s strategy to build and operate circa 175 megawatt of wind over the coming two years across the Irish and UK wind markets.

Hundreds of new jobs expected for Enniskillen, claims Liberty boss

7:00 pm
Tom McIlduff

Liberty Chief Executive Tom McIlduff

THE chief executive of Liberty Insurance has told the Fermanagh Herald that ‘hundreds of jobs’ could be created by the transfer of operations of the business in Enniskillen to a third party.

While 270 jobs across Liberty in Ireland are to be cut, including 20 in Enniskillen, the company’s CEO is confident that the remaining jobs 210  will be safe when they are transferred to a third party, and said that several hundred could be created as a result of the move.

Last week, the company announced its intention to pull out of the British market resulting in big job losses in the South.

It hopes to find 20 voluntary redundancies in Enniskillen to facilitate the transfer of employees there to a third-party company, which would operate selling and servicing Liberty products and customers.

Liberty Insurance took over Quinn Insurance in 2011.

Tom McIlduff, chief executive of the company told the Fermanagh Herald that he was confident that the transferred jobs would be secure under a third party, which has yet to be announced.

Liberty Insurance will continue to own the building in Enniskillen, said to have capacity for over 800 staff.

“If we look at it from a local area in Enniskillen, our focus there was really to try to protect as many jobs as we could in that location and that’s why we’ve gone through a process to identify a series of providers, customer service providers, who can come in and take responsibility for the team that we have up there,” he said.

“There’s significant space for additional jobs and we needed to work with someone who would take that on, wanted to invest in Enniskillen and create hopefully hundreds of jobs in that location.”

Asked if, given that the jobs will be in the hands of a third party, he could guarantee their safety, he replied: “I think the key thing is what we’ve done is work with partners who we know are fully committed to Enniskillen.

“We put them through a thorough due diligence process to understand their commitment to the area; their commitment to bringing new jobs to the area. That was the key criteria in the people that we selected.”

Mr McIlduff admitted that the statement released to the media last week prompted a degree of certainty among staff, but sought to allay fears.

“I think this is an uncertain message at the moment and it’s difficult to talk about who the parties are because of where we are in the contractual negotiations but hopefully that uncertainty will be relatively short-lived and we’ll be able to bring them onside and let them introduce themselves. Once we get into that process then people will feel much more comfortable for their future in the new business that we transfer them to.”

On how the third party company will work, Mr McIlduff explained: “The products will still be Liberty, the employees will work for the third party but they’ll be selling our products and serving our customers under the Liberty banner.

270 Liberty Insurance jobs to go, 20 in Enniskillen

June 25, 2015 12:43 pm
Job losses at Enniskillen based Liberty Insurance gkfh40

Job losses at Enniskillen based Liberty Insurance gkfh40

LIBERTY INSURANCE is to cut 270 jobs across Ireland, the company has announced.

20 jobs are to go in Enniskillen, with plans for 210 staff to be ‘transferred’ to a third party company.

The company has said that it is due to market changes and a strategic review of its operating model, and that restructuring is to begin with a ‘voluntary led redundancy process’.
Liberty Insurance announces details of restructuring with the commencement of a voluntary led redundancy process

A spokesman said: “Liberty Insurance, the Irish subsidiary of the Liberty Mutual Insurance Group (LMI), today announced that it is reviewing options to transfer its contact centre in Enniskillen and 210 employees to a third-party company that specialises in customer management, in a move which could potentially lead to further growth opportunities for the centre.  Details of these plans will be announced once a preferred partner is agreed and contracts finalised.”

Following this decision and a comprehensive review of its operating model, the company today informed employees that it is commencing a process that will seek 250 voluntary led redundancies in the Republic of Ireland and 20 in Northern Ireland. It is anticipated the redundancies will take effect over the next 18 months.Luis Bonell, President, Liberty International commented: “Liberty Mutual remains fully committed to building a successful business in Ireland.  In recent years, we have purchased the remaining minority stake in Liberty Insurance, announced the acquisition of Hughes Insurance and have continued to invest and create jobs in our Liberty IT division in both Dublin and Belfast.  In the coming years, we will utilize Liberty’s global expertise and resources to support our businesses in Ireland to enable their development into leading players in their respective markets.”

Tom McIlduff, Chief Executive, Liberty Insurance, said; “We have achieved a lot in our first few years in Ireland, having established a strong brand and grown our distribution network.  However, the market is challenging and we have been loss making with an uncompetitive cost base. Withdrawing from the Great Britain market, focusing on Ireland and streamlining our operating model will enable us to strengthen our long term competitive position in Ireland in order to service our customers and brokers better.

“The plans we are announcing today reflect our commitment to retaining a contact centre at Enniskillen. We are examining options to transfer it to a third party operator which would preserve roles and potentially lead to future growth opportunities.”

Following today’s employee briefings, management, employees and the employee representative body will work together during a consultation period which will last for 30 days.

This announcement does not affect the operations of Hughes Insurance Services Limited in Northern Ireland or of other Liberty Mutual Insurance subsidiaries operating in Great Britain.

Coming soon: new Enniskillen shops to create up to 90 jobs

June 4, 2015 4:41 pm
Work is well underway at Erneside for the new Next extension    RMGFH191

Work is well underway at Erneside for the new Next extension RMGFH191

 UP TO 90 jobs are expected to be created in Enniskillen over the course of the coming months.

The ongoing expansion at Erneside is to bring in new jobs with the opening of a store extension and coffee shop. And, new restaurant Little Wing, which held an open recruitment day in Enniskillen last week, has promised to create up to 20 jobs in the town centre.

While the roles are expected to be a mixture of part-time and full-time, it does nonetheless represent a move in a positive direction for the town jobs-wise.

From an Erneside perspective, Next have said that they expect to create up to 65 jobs. An adjoining coffee shop in the Next store has said that it will bring 15 new jobs.

Regarding Next, a spokesman said, that ‘everything is on schedule and due to open in November of this year’.

A spokesman for Ground Espresso Bars, which is investing £500k to open three stores across the North, said that the company is looking forward to opening its new store.

“We are also delighted to be expanding our partnership with Next Plc and these new concessions will see Ground feature in six of Next’s department stores before the end of 2015 with exciting plans in the pipeline to partner with Next on a considerable number of new sites as well.”

From a high street perspective, Little Wing Pizzeria is hoping to open before the summer. It held a recruitment day in the South West College on Wednesday past (May 27).
It has said that it hopes to create up to 20 jobs.

Luke Wolsey, managing director, told the Fermanagh Herald: “We were really encouraged by the turnout for our first recruitment fair and the number of enquiries we have received so far for positions at our new Little Wing restaurant in Enniskillen.

“Little Wing provides real and meaningful long term career opportunities for people that are passionate about hospitality and customer service.”

20 jobs up for grabs at new restaurant recruitment day

May 27, 2015 9:50 am

little wing
Up to 20 jobs are to be filled by a new restaurant opening in Enniskillen.

The restaurant Little Wing, which has outlets across the North, are to hold a recruitment open day today (Wednesday, May 27) at the South West College in Enniskillen.

The new restaurant is due to open on High Street, at the vacant premises beside ‘Savers’.

The restaurant hopes to create up to 20 jobs with the opening, and positions available include chef, managerial, waiting and kitchen staff.

The open day takes place in the Central Hall at the college from 11am to 4pm

Fourteen jobs to go with closure of Lisnaskea shop

May 6, 2015 3:53 pm
CLOSING…the Spar shop in Lisnaskea where the Post Office is currently located.

CLOSING…the Spar shop in Lisnaskea where the Post Office is currently located.

THE Lisnaskea Spar store, which is located at the junction of Main Street and the Derrylin/New Bridge Road closed week, with the loss of 4 full-time and 10 part-time staff.

Its owners, Henderson Wholesale, said the business had been ‘generating a significant loss’ and was no longer economically viable.

At present, Lisnaskea post office operates in-store, inside the premises and it will continue to do so until it relocates next month to a new, in-store location at Costcutters at the far end of Main Street.

Last week, householders began receiving letters from Post Office confirming the new relocation.

Meanwhile, a spokesman from Henderson Wholesale yesterday confirmed the closure of the store as from Thursday last, 30th April. (The store was open the next day, Friday but, by that evening, all the shelves had been cleared).

The spokesman stated: “Henderson Wholesale acquired Spar Lisnaskea from its previous owners in October 2012, and since then the Henderson Wholesale team and our store staff have worked tirelessly to turn the business around from a loss-making position.

“Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, and amid an extremely competitive local retail market, the business is generating a significant loss and it is no longer economically viable to continue trading.

“The recent announcement that the Post Office has decided to leave the store in the near future is the latest blow and, therefore, it is with very deep regret that we have taken the difficult decision to cease trading from Thursday 30th April.

“This will unfortunately result in job losses for four full- and 10 part-time staff.”

Jean McVitty, the press officer for Lisnaskea Chamber of Commerce said the closure wasn’t even mentioned at last week’s monthly meeting, held prior to closure.

“It is sad to see any business closing down but the business had diminished and I suppose it was on the cards anyway.” But, she welcomed the relocation of the Post Office to the Costcutters store.

“The chamber and the community in Lisnaskea disagreed with the post office going to Spar in the first place. There was no proper parking and it was near a mini-roundabout that was used by very heavy and very long vehicles and, at times, it was dangerous.

“At least, now, it will be beside a pedestrian crossing, with parking for disabled users and much more central for the community.” There are 24 independently owned and 3 franchised Spar stores in Fermanagh.

Warning that hike in business rates will cost jobs

April 16, 2015 12:02 pm
Declan McCabe of McCabe’s Supervalu, Newtownbutler is unhappy with the increase in his rates bill. RMGFH88

Declan McCabe of McCabe’s Supervalu, Newtownbutler is unhappy with the increase in his rates bill. RMGFH88

By Ryan Smith
LOCAL business owners are continuing to come to terms with a hike in rates that has seen bills for businesses here rising by thousands.

Land and Property Services has re-valued non-domestic properties across the North meaning that ‘new values’ were used to calculate rates bills from April 1.

This means that ratepayers will be paying based on their 2013 rental value – as opposed to the last evaluation which was back in 2001.

And while some parts of the county have benefited – including in Enniskillen town centre – others have suffered heavily from the re-evaluation.

Declan McCabe of McCabe’s Supervalu in Newtownbutler said his business is facing an increase of over 50%.

“Like any man in business if he gets a 50 or 60% increase in any overhead he has to look at it and see where can we save this money going forward,” he said.

“I don’t think they’re thinking at all. We will have to look at our wage hours. There’s no way I can increase a 50% increase on our second biggest overhead.”

Asked how he will absorb the rates hike, Mr McCabe said: “The only way to stay profitable is to look at cutting your wage hours. We’re going to have to sit down and look at where we can save on this. I’ve been talking to other shopkeepers here and they’re looking at similar. They can’t see the logic or the sense in it at all.”

Similarly, in Enniskillen, Scott Robinson of Craigville Garden Centre and Coffee Shop is also facing a 50% rise.

“We’re just on the edge of town: We don’t even get Christmas lights or our own bins emptied,” he said, “It doesn’t make sense. This town is empty enough without hurting small businesses.

“My ground hasn’t changed – we’re open ground. It’s not as if we’ve build a two storey house on it.”

Like Supervalu in Newtownbutler, Mr Robinson said that the impact will be on staff.

“Any chance we had of taking on extra members of staff this year are gone. Really there’s times in our business where when the weather is good you could do with 50 staff. But we’re just going to have to cope again.”