250 jobs at risk at pottery manufacturer

Up to 250 jobs are on the line at pottery manufacturer Churchill China as a result of the coronavirus.

The company, based in Stoke-on-Trent, suspended all of its manufacturing operations in March following a massive drop in demand across the ceramics industry as orders from the hospitality sector slowed significantly.

In a statement, the firm, which employs 700 people, said: “It is with great regret that we announce that we have recently begun a consultation process with a number of our employees and their representatives on potential redundancies within our business.

“Covid-19 has had a major impact on our principal markets in the hospitality sector (pubs,bar, restaurants, hotels and leisure) both in the UK and overseas.

“This sector will be one of the last to reopen under lockdown exit plans and is forecast to remain at substantially lower levels well into next year.

“As such it is important to the long-term health of our business that we align our activities with future demand levels from our customers.

“As a business we will do all that we can to mitigate loss of employment, however we find ourselves in unprecedented times and as such we have had to take action to safeguard the future of the majority of our workforce.

“We will do our utmost to support all our employees through this difficult time.”

Wendy Grieveson from union GMB, said: “Coronavirus has rocked the pottery industry. Just last year we lost Dudson alongside job losses at Wedgwood.

“The Government needs to step in to save our potteries before it’s too late. The whole industry is the heart of our city and it’s who we are.

“GMB will keep fighting every day to mitigate job losses and support our members throughout the crisis and beyond.”

Churchill China was due to release its preliminary results for 2019 in March 26 but was advised by The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) to delay publication of the report.

However, unaudited accounts for the 12 months to December 31 show the company enjoyed a strong performance in 2019, with revenues up by £10m to £67.5m and pre-tax profits up to £11.3m from £8.9m.