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More than 40 staff redundancies at company making NHS workwear

PUBLISHED: 07:22 05 August 2020 | UPDATED: 11:22 05 August 2020

The Meltemi operation in Bowthorpe. Pic: Meltemi

The Meltemi operation in Bowthorpe. Pic: Meltemi

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A firm which has made workwear for the NHS in Norfolk for more than 30 years has closed its local branch.

Greg Houlston, general manager. Pic: MeltemiGreg Houlston, general manager. Pic: Meltemi

Meltemi gave its Barnard Road workforce the choice of redundancy or to relocate to the parent company’s HQ in Preston, Lancashire, its manager confirmed. But only a handful decided to move and most of the workforce of 50 from Bowthorpe took redundancy.

Staff in Norwich included sewing machinists as well as those working in the warehouse, finance and logistics departments.

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Meltemi manufactures and supplies workwear to all kinds of professions. Pic: MeltemiMeltemi manufactures and supplies workwear to all kinds of professions. Pic: Meltemi

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Five years ago Meltemi was acquired by Lancashire-based workwear manufacturer Alsico Laucuba, which supplies clothing to all kinds of professions including healthcare and catering. It decided to bring the entire operation under one roof, and the Bowthorpe operation will close but Meltemi will continue trading.

Greg Houlston, general manager, who joined in Bowthorpe a year ago and who will be relocating to Preston himself, said it hadn’t made commercial sense to run two separate operations. He said stock was often driven from Preston to Bowthorpe and then sent out to customers, adding to the delivery times. The size of the unit in Preston was better for the business to continue there, he said.

“It is with regret that we have to close the operation in Norwich. The consultation process has ended and most of the employees have now left but there is just a small cluster to oversee the final transition.”

Mr Houlston said the firm had been extremely busy throughout coronavirus, supplying workwear including reusable face masks to the local NHS and in fact this had also shown the need to bring the business together from one unit. “We wouldn’t have been able to fulfil the requests on our own, the group element is the key. The name Meltemi will continue but the Norwich business will close.”

He said the firm owned the building in Bowthorpe which would be put up for sale shortly.

A member of staff, who did not want to be named, told this newspaper: “This is a great loss to the local economy as Meltemi has been supplying workwear and uniforms since the early 1980s from Norwich. Several staff have very specialist skills such as machinists and embroiderers.”


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