Bridon to close UK facility

Bridon Ropes Limited has announced the closure of its wire rope factory in Retford, Nottinghamshire, effective from March 2004. A net loss of 80 jobs is expected.

Bridon, which manufactures 8,000 tonnes of rope a year for the lifting, construction and engineering industries, said that by March next year, 90 per cent of the site’s machinery and production capacity will have been transferred to the company’s remaining manufacturing plants in Doncaster and Willington Quay.

The remaining 10 per cent, dedicated to the production of general engineering rope below 16mm diameter and a small range of lift ropes, will be decommissioned – a decision driven by commercial necessity as demand for cheaper Far East and Eastern Europe imports continues to squeeze UK manufacturers out of the smaller wire rope market.

Meanwhile, the wire mill side of the business will move from both Retford and Doncaster to Bridon’s largest site at Willington Quay, which already produces 20,000 tonnes of rope a year. The Doncaster facility will continue to specialise in the production of heavier ropes for the offshore and construction industries with a greater number of high performance products been manufactured at both sites.

“It is with huge regret that we have had to make this difficult decision,” said Steve Rutherford, managing director of the Bridon Group. “As our share of the market for finer diameter ropes has declined it has become increasingly difficult for us to justify the Retford site. Although it only accounts for a small percentage of the depot’s overall production, we are also faced with the fact that additional machinery on site is duplicated by newer versions at our other two manufacturing plants. Closure is not good news for our employees but unfortunately this has had to be a purely commercial decision. Bridon has a world leading position in the supply of high performance products and it is this share of the market on which we need to concentrate.”

Lou Williamson, Bridon’s Group Development Manager, added: “Retford has been losing volume in the smaller end of wire rope production for the last three years. While other areas of wire and rope production are thriving we are no longer able to utilise Retford’s capacity cost-effectively. Any re-organisation is painful, especially for employees directly affected, but we are doing our best to hold on to as many jobs as possible and the company will undoubtedly be stronger and more efficient as a result.”

Steve Rutherford, meanwhile, believes Bridon is not alone in its need to re-structure. “Closures of equivalent plants have taken place across Europe recently and I envisage there will be more to follow. Cheaper foreign imports are a serious issue across sections of our industry. At Bridon our strategy to overcome this is to build on the potential of our high performance markets.”


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