Tanfield subsidiary Snorkel lays off 125 in US

22 August 2008

Tanfield's Vigo production facility in the UK, where it makes both UpRight aerial platforms and Smit

Tanfield's Vigo production facility in the UK, where it makes both UpRight aerial platforms and Smith electric vehicles.

Tanfield Group's US subsidiary Snorkel International is to lay off 125 workers at its plant in Elwood, Kansas. The lay-offs follow Tanfield's announcement in early July of redundancies at its UK UpRight Powered Access and Smith Electric Vehicles (SEV) businesses.

The 125 redundancies are the US are mainly production staff, but the company will continue to produce its full range of equipment. The company employed 450 people in Kansas.

"We've experienced a downturn in business", said Tanfield spokesman Dan Jenkins, "We've got to move quickly to secure the future of the businesses."

Tanfield has, however, reduced the impact of the redundancies in the UK. The original announcement said that up to 150 staff at UpRight and SEV could go, but has now revised that down to 85. "It's still unfortunate", said Mr Jenkins, "but not as many as we predicted."

Tanfield Group's shares have plummeted in value since the July announcement, when the company said that there had been a sudden drop in demand for aerial platforms and also a number of order cancellations. Shares are currently trading at around £0.08 compared to £1.80 in October 2007.

The largest US rental companies are significantly cutting expenditure this year - RSC Equipment Rental has halved spending and US rental consultant Dan Kaplan is forecasting an over 30% fall in investment in equipment, including aerials, by the top 10 US rental companies.

Mr Jenkins said UpRight was still building all its models and was still fulfilling orders. The company will also attend the APEX aerial platform exhibition in Maastricht in September and will launch some new machines.

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