News

The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

Keep up to date with the latest news and stories from across Dumfries & Galloway.

 

MSP CALLS FOR HALT TO PINNEYS CLOSURE FOLLOWING YOUNGS SEAFOOD SALE PLAN

South Scotland MSP, Colin Smyth met with the Chief Executive of Youngs Seafood, Bill Showalter at Pinneys in Annan and called on him to halt plans to close the site, following reports that Youngs Seafood itself are to be put up up for sale. 

Commenting on the reports Colin Smyth said, "Reports that Youngs Seafood are to be put up for sale will add to the anxiety of the nearly 700 people who face losing their jobs if Pinneys closes. The company should call an immediate halt to any plans to close Pinneys as they have no idea what any potential new owners of Youngs May wish to do with the site. It may well be that they will want to retain Pinneys and the workforce and Youngs should not be making any decisions until that is clear . To do so would simply show further contempt by Youngs of a workforce and community that have been treated appallingly by the company". 

 

Council Reaffirm Commitment to Pinneys

Council Depute Leader, Rob Davidson, Chair of our Council’s Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee, Cllr Archie Dryburgh and the Council’s Business and Enterprise Manager travelled to Annan on Thursday, 19th April with Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy Paul Wheelhouse to meet Senior Managers from Young’s Seafood to discuss the way forward, following the recent announcement that the owners of Pinneys are to sell the Annan plant. Following a tour of the site, the group held face-to-face discussions with the CEO of Young’s, Unions and workforce representatives.

This was another step in the work our Council is taking through the Action Group which was set up following the initial announcement at the beginning of this month, and reaffirms our commitment to do everything we can to support the company and staff during this difficult period.

Council Depute Leader, Rob Davidson commented: “What struck me today was the attitude and ongoing commitment from Pinneys’ staff. Despite difficult circumstances and natural concern about the future, their dedication is admirable and they are showing themselves to be a strong and valuable asset, which would be a credit to any company.”

The Depute Leader went on to say; “I would like to reaffirm my reassurances to the employees of Pinneys from our Council:

1: We are trying everything we can to keep this factory open, and

2: We will support the staff and the wider community of Annan through this difficult time and for as long as it takes.”

Cllr Archie Dryburgh said: “I completely agree with the Depute Leader and would reiterate that our top priority is to keep the factory open with a view to maintaining as much local employment as possible. I am aware that this Company employs not only individuals, but numerous members of individual families in our area and to see it close would be devastating to them and our local economy.”

 

Stakeholders encouraged to take part in series of events on South of Scotland economy

Businesses, agencies, organisations and individuals in the south of Scotland are being invited to help influence an ambitious new approach to economic development.

 

As part of the South of Scotland Economic Partnership, stakeholders can attend a series of special engagement events to help shape the economic future of the area and the new enterprise agency that is being created.

The free events, taking place from Monday 16 April to Thursday 7 June in a range of locations from Stranraer to Eyemouth, take the form of both breakfast and evening events, to make them as accessible as possible.

The events are designed to allow a single conversation with stakeholders on what powers and focus they would like the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency to have when it is established in 2020, the interim work programme of the partnership and also potential opportunities for the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal.

The Scottish Government is currently consulting on the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency, with responses shaping its development and influencing what the standalone agency will do. Feedback from the upcoming events will be fed into that consultation process.

Prof Russel Griggs, chair of the partnership, said: “This is an exciting time for the south of Scotland and it is a time when our collective voice, and indeed our individual voices, are being heard at the highest levels in both Scotland and across the UK.

“It is therefore vital that the partnership hears from our local businesses and other stakeholders to ensure that their views are being taken into account. These events will enable them to influence both the future development of the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency and the partnership’s work programme.”

The stakeholder events are being managed by the Southern Uplands Partnership on behalf of the South of Scotland Economic Partnership. Places can be booked at www.sup.org.uk/sosep.asp

Prof Griggs added: “The establishment of the partnership and the future development of the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency will generate a renewed commitment that will bring investment, innovation and a fresh approach for the south of Scotland, shining a collective spotlight on the whole region for the first time.

“The partnership offers an opportunity for greater collaboration and closer working across all sectors. It is important for us to work with businesses of all sizes to understand the issues and opportunities that exist and how best the partnership, and in due course the enterprise agency, can attempt to address these and drive inclusive growth across the area.

“Growth will come from small and medium sized enterprises expanding and developing across the region and private sector support is crucial to the success of the partnership.”

The membership of South of Scotland Economic Partnership is made up of a wealth of business experience across sectors, sizes and locations relevant to the south of Scotland, as well as representatives from education, the third sector and the public sector.

As well as bringing together key partners to boost the economic performance of the south of the country, the Scottish Government has provided a significant investment package worth £10 million to assist the partnership.

Business Minister to discuss Pinneys case with Marks and Spencer bosses

Joan McAlpine has welcomed news that Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse will meet Marks and Spencer bosses to discuss the threatened closure of Pinneys in Annan.

Mr Wheelhouse revealed details of the meeting in response to a question in parliament from Joan McAlpine, who says Marks and Spencer are obligated to the workforce in Annan, as they have been Pinney's only customer for several years.

Questioning the Minister in Parliament today, Ms McAlpine said:

“The Minister will be aware that Pinneys sole customer under Young's was Marks and Spencer, and had been for several years.

 “I appreciate that the groceries regulation is a reserved matter and that exclusivity of supply is not prohibited in the grocer's code of conduct. 

 “But does the minister agree with me that while such an arrangement may seem beneficial when demand is high, it can have very negative effects when there are challenges?”

 In his response, the Business Minister said:

“We do recognise that there are commercial considerations here, but I do identify with the point that Joan McAlpine has said in the respect that where we have a plant being dedicated effectively to one client then clearly if any work is lost from that client it means that plant is particularly vulnerable.

“We are looking to engage with M&S in this particular scenario and seeking to meet with M&S senior management team this week.

“We have had some initial conversations with M&S but I want to speak to them on the specific issue about single company sites and I agree with Joan McAlpine that this situation is starkly illustrated in this case.

“The risks associated with having a single client site is obviously horribly exposed in the context of what has happened at Annan.”

Ms McAlpine raised the issue of contract exclusivity with the retail giant in a letter last week, and was assured by their chief executive Steve Rowe that Marks would engage with the action group set up try to save jobs.

Ms McAlpine is scheduled to speak with Young’s boss Bill Showalter today (Wednesday April 18th 2018).

CLOSURE OF PINNEYS WOULD BE AN “ECONOMIC TSUNAMI” FOR THE ECONOMY OF ANNAN, MSP TELLS SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has today (17 April) spoke up in the Scottish Parliament on behalf of workers at Pinneys in Annan and warned MSPs that the closure of the factory would be an “economic tsunami” for the area.

 
The MSP was questioning the Scottish Government’s Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse on what support the Scottish Government would provide the local economy, where Colin Smyth highlighted that the real level of job losses if Pinneys closed would be nearer 700, taking account seasonal and agency workers. The local MSP called on the Government to tackle the fundamental weaknesses in the local economy which leaves Annan so vulnerable if Pinneys closed.
 
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament Colin Smyth MSP said,
 
“When you add agency and seasonal workers to the permanent workforce, the potential job losses if Pinneys closes is likely to nearer 700 which would be an economic tsunami in a community the size of Annan with a working population of just five and half thousand.
 
Whilst the first priority is to use the 45-day consultation to try to convince Young’s to change their closure decision and if this is unsuccessful to find a buyer for the Pinneys site, does the Cabinet Secretary share the concerns of the local community that one of the reasons any job losses would be so disastrous is the fact the fundamental weaknesses in the local economy in terms of poor infrastructure, the lowest pay in Scotland, and few large employers have not been tackled and those weaknesses are now coming back to haunt us?”
 
In response Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse said:
 
“Absolutely, I do identify with that latter point that Colin Smyth has mentioned.
 
We are clearly taking forward proposal for a South of Scotland Enterprise Agency and that is medium to long term mission to try and transform the economy of the South.
 
In the immediate period we have a more sever challenge in the context of Annan if all 450 permanent jobs were to be lost and indeed the seasonal jobs in the October to December period which is the peak period of production, would have very significant consequences for the area were that to happen.
 
One of the virtues of having the action group is to not just look at the specifics around the particular impact of the plant closure but also look to see if there is anything outwith this process where we can try and do something to strengthen the economy in Annan…..
 
We know that the vast majority of staff are concentrated within a 10 mile radius therefore we know job losses on that scale will have huge impact on Annan.”
 
After the exchange in Parliament, Mr Smyth said:
 
“I will be meeting the Chief Executive of Young’s Seafood on Thursday (19 April) because the immediate priority is to try to convince Young’s to reverse their plans to close the factory or to find a buyer but we also need to accept that the reason the closure would be so devastating is the fact there are few alternative employment opportunities to absorb so many job losses. Whilst it was reassuring that the Minister acknowledges the long term economic challenges facing Annan, what we need to see is solutions. That means more investment in tackling our poor infrastructure, building the skills level in the area and ensuring that adequate support is in place to grow and attract businesses or we will always be vulnerable to a closure of the scale of Pinneys.