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01.04.2010 18:18    Comments: 0    Categories: On a Serious Note      Tags: carlisle  news  

Dozens of drivers will lose their jobs when F Brown Ltd, at Cardewlees, closes the haulage side of its operation on April 30.


The company, which was battling ‘historic haulage financial losses’, told employees of the redundancies last week.


It employs around 35 drivers and a handful of garage staff, all of whom are understood to be losing their jobs.


“We regret to have to inform you of the planned closure of the haulage division of F Brown (Carlisle) Ltd,” a letter sent to employees stated. The company will be implementing a phased redundancy programme. The warehousing side of the business remains unaffected.”


The red and grey wagons have been a familiar sight on Cumbria’s roads since Fred Brown started the business in the 1950s with just one tipper truck.


It grew to dozens of lorries with contracts across the UK but the first signs of its struggle to survive emerged in October 2008 when half the fleet was sold off as the company battled the economic downturn.


At the time, a spokesperson said the work ‘just wasn’t there’.


A driver for the company said they were first told of its troubles in January this year when the possibility of redundancies was raised and employees were asked to come up with money-saving ideas – including a £20 a week pay cut – to help keep the company going.


The letter sent out last week confirmed that bosses ‘had hoped this would be sufficient to rectify the current financial problems.’


“Following a review, it has transpired these measures are insufficient and the haulage division is forecast to make a financial loss,” it went on to say.


“We have tried to market the company with no success and will continue to do so until April 30.”


It is understood that Malcolm Harrisons Auctions, which handled the last sale of the company’s wagons, will be brought in to sell the remainder of the fleet.


Employees were told in January that the company, which is split into haulage and warehousing divisions, was in profit in the last financial year but that was down to the warehousing operation. It will continue after the haulage side, which they said had made ‘substantial financial losses’, is closed down.


“In its heyday, jobs at F Brown were like gold dust,” the driver said. “Everyone wanted to work for them. They were jobs for life back then. It’s sad to see the end of such a long-established Carlisle firm.”


Carlisle’s parliamentary Labour candidate Michael Boaden said: “It’s a real tragedy that it has come to this,” he said. “They have obviously worked very hard to keep going.”

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