Heywood Williams cuts 100 jobs

Building products supplier Heywood Williams has cut about 100 jobs in the UK after reducing its worldwide workforce by almost a quarter.
The Elland, north of England-based group, which distributes pr…

Building products supplier Heywood Williams has cut about 100 jobs in the UK after reducing its worldwide workforce by almost a quarter. The Elland, north of England-based group, which distributes products across the UK, Europe and North America, unveiled the job losses as it reported a 13% fall in sales to GBP 219 million for 2008 compared with the previous year. Sales for the 2H of the year fell by 17%. Like-for-like sales during the year were down by about 14%. In a bid to cut costs, Heywood said it had laid off more than 300, or about 23% of its workforce, to bring its total to about 1,000. About 100 of the redundancies were at its sites across the UK, with most taking place in 2008. In a statement the company said: “All the markets that the group services declined sharply in 2008 and trading conditions were very tough throughout the year. The markets have declined due to the global credit crunch and its impact on consumer confidence”. Heywood Williams said it would make a loss for the year, in line with market expectations. The group said it was in talks with its banks to arrange “appropriate covenants” for 2009 and 2010. It said debt levels were reduced by GBP 3 million in the 2H of the year to stand at a better-than-expected GBP 47 million, driven by a substantial reduction in working capital. However the statement added: “The group anticipates that the markets it serves will be more difficult in 2009 before a slight improvement in market conditions in 2010”. “To take account of this, the group has already implemented significant cost reduction initiatives. Cash management initiatives are also underway to further reduce working capital”. Heywood Williams“ hardware division supplies handles, hinges and locks for doors and windows across the UK, Ireland, the Benelux countries, Scandinavia, and the Baltic States. The division includes market leading brands including Carlisle Brass, Mila, Eurospec, Window Ware and Eurolite and works with housing developers, builders merchants and manufacturers of windows, doors and conservatories. In the USA, Heywood Williams owns LaSalle Bristol, a leading supplier of building products. The group bought Irish architectural hardware supplier Avenco in 2008. Sales from that business were excluded from the like-for-life figures for 2008.