Double Blow to Forfar EconomyNeil Hardie
Forfar has suffered a double jobs blow as two prominent business in the town are set to make people redundant just as the effects of Covid-19 again begin to tighten their grip with new regulations outlined by both the Scottish and UK governments.
Thirteen staff have been made redundant at Strathmore Water, while fashion outlet Peacocks in Castle Street are not to re-open their premises.
Staff have been made redundant at Forfar-based Strathmore Water as owner AG Barr doubts sales will return to pre-covid levels in the “foreseeable future”.
The Irn-bru producer said it “regrettably” had to cut manufacturing staff at the bottled water business, which it purchased in 2006 for £15 million.
A total of 13 staff have been made redundant at the Angus facility, where 18 workers remain.
A spokesperson from AG Barr said: “The Strathmore brand has been impacted by reduced hospitality sector sales during lockdown.
“Whilst we are seeing some recovery across hospitality, it will take time for the sector to regain momentum and as such we do not anticipate Strathmore returning to pre-covid-19 sales levels in the foreseeable future. Regrettably, as a consequence we have had to reduce our manufacturing workforce at our Forfar site by 13 people.”
The Cumbernauld-based company, which also makes drinks such as Rubicon and Funkin, saw its revenues fall 7.6% to £113.2m in the six months to July 25.
Profits before tax fell by 62% to £5.1m from £13.5m over the same period.
The company reduced the value of the Strathmore brand and assets by £11.5m within the accounts.
The firm added: “An impairment review of the Strathmore Water business operations was undertaken which resulted in the impairment of the Strathmore brand of £7m, goodwill of £1.9m and property, plant and equipment of £1.1m.”
Angus Council’s economy spokesman and Forfar councillor Braden Davy said the redundancies were “truly awful news”.
He added: “It’s part of a much wider picture and we must do everything we can to support those losing their jobs and support local businesses.”
AG Barr said its underlying business remained strong but that it was keeping its dividend position under review, with payments likely to begin again in 2021.
Chief executive Roger White added: “We have continued to invest in our core brand equity for the long term, maintained our quality and service standards and remain a profitable and cash generative business in a robust drinks sector.
“We are confident that our business will continue to prove its resilience for the balance of this year and beyond.”
Forfar town centre has been dealt a business blow with the closure of the town’s Peacocks fashion outlet.
The Castle Street shop has been emptied after indications last week that the premises were to close.
It is thought that at least half a dozen jobs have been lost, although the store operators declined to respond to a request for comment.
The firm continues to operate other Angus stores in Arbroath and Montrose.
The Forfar outlet faced uncertainty two years ago but remained in business.
The large store occupies a prominent town centre position on the corner of Castle Street and the road leading to Forfar’s biggest car park, The Myre.
Formerly a supermarket under various guises, it was an Iceland until 2016, when the frozen food retailer shut up shop and the Welsh clothing firm moved in.
The closure comes as Forfar traders are continuing their fight back from the Coronavirus pandemic, having recently been given the boost of the suspension of off-street parking charges for another six months.