Pottery giant cuts hours for hundreds of staff as coronavirus hits key markets

Hundreds of staff at Stoke-on-Trent pottery firm Steelite International are to have their hours cut following the coronavirus outbreak.

The decision comes as COVID-19 has resulted in falling global sales in the company’s key hospitality sector.

The tableware manufacturer said it is putting its hourly paid employees on a four day working week while a review of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its business is undertaken.

The short time working affects around 650 employees at its Middleport factory and distribution centre as well as the Cross 50 warehousing facility at Newcastle-under-Lyme.

From this week for the next six weeks, full-time employees will work Monday to Thursday but will be off work on Friday.

However, one of these weeks is the annual Easter factory shutdown and normal holiday pay will apply.

Steelite International, which provides tableware and buffet solutions for the global hospitality industry, is encountering a volatile sales market because of the worldwide impact of the pandemic.

Steelite Group HR director Louise Griffin said: “The decision to go on a four day working week has been taken to allow the business time to review ongoing costs and efficiencies because of the impact the pandemic has had on orders.

“Hotels, cruise ships, restaurants and general hospitality venues are being affected by significantly reduced bookings.

“This has resulted in a volatile sales market and in order to sustain future growth for the business we need to ensure that we are structured to cope with this volatility.

“We are in unprecedented times and our decisions and measures may well change on a daily basis depending on actions taken by governments around the world.”