HUNDREDS of workers have lost their jobs after the collapse of a shopfitting company. Administrators announced yesterday that 247 staff at Havelock International in Kirkcaldy, Fife, would be made redundant immediately.

A “challenging trading environment” was blamed for the collapse as the joint administrators, David Baxendale and Zelf Hussain of PwC, said the company could not continue to trade while a buyer was sought.

The GMB union said workers were “angry” and claimed the factory does not need to close, saying the consequences of that would be “dire”.

Baxendale said: “The company has faced a challenging trading environment for some time and the directors have concluded that there is no longer any reasonable prospect for the company to continue to trade.

“Prior to our appointment, we explored ways that the business might continue to operate whilst a buyer was sought. However, regrettably this has not proved possible and it has therefore been necessary to make 247 employees redundant with immediate effect.

“Our priority is to ensure that all employees are assisted in processing their redundancy claims as a priority. We will be in further contact with all staff as soon as possible and will outline the support available to

complete redundancy payment forms. Advice and assistance will also be available from JobCentre Plus and Pace [Partnership Action for Continuing Employment].”

A small number of workers have been retained to assist the administrators in closing the business.

Havelock International changed its name from Havelock Europa after being bought out of administration last year, saving more than 300 jobs.

GMB Scotland organiser Allison Cairns said: “The anger of workers at today’s announcement from Havelock is entirely justified. There are serious questions to be answered as to how the company was allowed to get to this point without the workforce being warned or consulted.”

Cairns criticised the emergence of the administration announcement in the media before the workforce were informed.

She added: “The plain fact is that this factory does not need to close. There is a quality product here for a buyer willing to make this business work. The consequences if a suitable buyer cannot be found will be simply

dire for Fife, for what remains of Scottish manufacturing, and worst of all for the 250 people employed here, some of whom will have worked here for a lifetime.

“GMB Scotland will do everything in our power to support and assist our members at this time.”

SNP MSP David Torrance said: “I am extremely disappointed by the news of such a major employer within my constituency going into administration. My thoughts are with all the workforce and their families, on whom this news will have a devastating impact. The company has been a significant employer in the town for many years and the impact of its loss will be considerable.”

Torrance said he had written to the Business Minister urging the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise to intervene to keep the firm trading.

He added: “If this is not possible, any assistance they can give to ensure that a buyer is found and Havelock continue to be a large employer in Kirkcaldy is imperative.”