Glencraft Workshop Reopens in Aberdeen

Posted: 30 April 2010, in Press Release

A blind and disabled workshop that shut with the loss of more than 50 jobs has re-opened.

First Minister Alex Salmond officially opened and toured the Glencraft furniture factory in Aberdeen on Tuesday.

Six months earlier the facility closed its doors in November 2009 with debts of £3million and the loss of 52 posts – many of them blind and disabled workers.

The company has been re-born with the help of a rescue plan from local energy firm PSN which included funding from Scottish Enterprise and a pledge by Aberdeen City Council to waive the first year’s rent.

Workers Colin and Helen Middler spoke of their delight at being back at work as two of 35 workers who were re-hired.

Colin said: “It’s tremendous we’re back in employment. In November last year we thought our worlds had ended. I did some voluntary work but that doesn’t pay the bills. There’s nothing like having your job and being back among your friends.

Helen added: “It’s great being back in everyone’s company now because we were just like a small family.”

“The public have been great but we need their support to continue. Without the north-east public this place wouldn’t have re-opened”, Colin added.

First Minister Alex Salmond toasted the re-birth of the company who now carry the slogan ‘Helping the north-east sleep at night’.

“It’s a great day for the workers of Glencraft and it’s a great day for the north-east of Scotland”, he said.

Mr Salmond added: “I love this new slogan they’ve got and the fact that we’re moving into a new social enterprise and a new future for the workers here, there’ll be a lot more people in the north-east sleeping easier at night knowing there is something good happening and something is being done.”

The new body still needs to raise £500,000 in order to secure new fit for purpose premises. The First Minister backed the company by purchasing a new mattress himself.

Mr Salmond said: “I’m calling for everyone to get behind this workforce but two things need to happen – this social enterprise is going to have to stand on its own two feet and live by the quality of the mattresses and beds they produce but in order to help them along I’m urging everyone to get behind.

Duncan Skinner of PSN said: “I’m delighted for the team who have worked hard behind the scenes to get to this point today and absolutely delighted for the employees, it’s a great day for them and a great day for Glencraft.

The factory’s previous management blamed a lack of support from Aberdeen City Council for its demise, after essential subsidy funds were stopped in 2008.

However the local authority insisted it had done everything it could have to assist the firm and accused the management of “spending beyond its means”.

The factory needs to sell 14,000 mattresses a year to sustain itself.