Jobs are under threat at one of Bury St Edmunds foremost engineering companies as production moves abroad.
The Vitec Group, which owns studio camera support manufacturer Vinten in Western Way, announced in its annual report last Thursday that it would be ‘downsizing selected activities in the UK, Israel and US’.
At the same time it will expand manufacturing in Costa Rica. The report, which boasts before tax profits are up 2.5 per cent to £36.2 million, says: “These planned actions are intended to better position the group for the future whilst delivering an attractive return.”
Paul Watson, general manager of Vitec Videocom’s camera supports and accessories, which includes Vinten, said: “Vitec Videocom, based in Bury St Edmunds, has announced proposals to streamline its operations, including transferring some existing assembly work from its Bury site to an existing manufacturing facility in Costa Rica.
“This will also include re-organising the company’s engineering and design resources and it forms part of a wider re-organisation and consolidation of the business.
“The company will now enter into a period of consultation with its employees before any changes take place. These transfers are anticipated to take up to 12 months to complete and the company will ensure every support is given to any potentially affected employees.”
The company employs about 220 people in Bury. It is not yet known how many jobs are under threat.
Andrew Denny, president of Bury Chamber of Commerce and managing director of Fix-a-Form International which designs and manufactures its own machines, said: “I cannot speak on the specifics of Vinten, but often when a company moves production overseas to save costs they are simply joining the race to the bottom. The UK is well respected for its innovation and technical expertise and so to remain successful here, manufacturing businesses need to make best use of that particular skill set.”
Chris Richards, the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s principal policy adviser for manufacturing, questioned Vitec’s wisdom.
He said: “We live in a global market where many factors will decide where the best place to manufacture will be.
“Recent trends point to more companies returning their manufacturing to the UK. While upfront savings may prove an attraction, in the long term hidden costs driven by a loss of resilience in the supply chain and reductions in quality have led to many companies reconsidering a move overseas.”