Sixty jobs are axed as timber firm downsizes

A BRANCH of a timber firm in Bury St Edmunds has been downsized with 60 jobs axed following cuts to affordable housing.

Howarth Timber Engineering, in Hollow Road, has ceased production of its timber frames for social housing construction after a slump in the market caused by the Coalition Government slashing 40 per cent from the affordable housing budget.

However, the site is continuing to make structural components for roofs and floors, primarily for private sector house building, which accounts for 40 per cent of its operations.

As a result, the company plans to move to a smaller premises on the outskirts of Bury to accommodate its remaining 40 employees.

Nicholas Howarth, managing director of the Howarth Timber Group, which is based in Leeds and operates across the country, said: “The Government cuts have really only impacted significantly in 2012 because they were delayed.

“They’ve still got further to go and will run for another two to three years. We saw the losses we were making on the timber frame side growing.

“The existing Hollow Road site – given the fact we’re reducing our operations there by 60 per cent – is too big and expensive for us. We’ve been advised that it would be difficult for someone else to come in and share it.

“We’re looking at an alternative site just outside Bury which is still within travel to work distance for the remaining staff.”

About 60 jobs have been axed from the site since June as a result of the cutbacks.

Mr Howarth added: “It wasn’t just the drop in volume, the prices were dropping so the work remaining was far less profitable. The contractors we were selling to are finding business very tough so they’re becoming very aggressive in making deductions and paying slowly.”

The downsizing only relates to the company’s Bury site.