Thursday, February 04, 2010

New Jobs for Newtown

A major issue affecting Newtown in Montgomeryshire at present is the potential loss of 180 jobs at Shop Direct in Newtown. The loss of these jobs is a massive blow to the local economy, and an emotional break with Newtown's industrial heritage. The current call centre operation is an extension of the mail order business established on the same site (The Royal Welsh Warehouse) by Pryce Pryce-Jones in 1879. I refer to the job losses as 'potential' - because there is the usual statutory 90 day period before confirmation.

I know that there is much constructive discussion going on with the owners of this business, by the Assembly Government civil servants based in Newtown, the Town Mayor and others. No point in me replicating what they're doing. So I thought I'd meet a few businesses in the town to search out some alternative employment opportunities if the worst comes to the worst. This afternoon I met the Joint CEO of Laura Ashley Ltd at their hugely impressive Texplan unit in Newtown. We had a terrific hour, walking around Texplan and discussing issues where I may be able to help. I've been involved with Laura Ashley in one way or another for most of my life.

The great news for Newtown is that Laura Ashley Ltd are looking for around 20 new employees to train up as machinists. A training programme would be provided, and the opportunities are there now. Neither the company , nor I, would wish to interfere in efforts that are being made to save the Shop Direct jobs, or to find a buyer for the business. But its great to learn that there are other opportunities for employment in the town. Next week, I've arranged to meet some other businesses in Newtown. I suppose I am the perennial optimist and always think there's some way to improve bad situations - but only if I work at it.

1 comment:

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

It’s awful to keep hearing about the job situation in Wales. So many Welsh people are obliged to become Welsh 浪人 (Ronin) and leave Wales chasing work opportunities.

The big problem now of course is that there is a job shortage across wide areas of the West making it harder to find work. With this in mind I came up with a proposal to help create jobs in Wales – right now it is before Lesley Griffiths, the Deputy Minister for Science, Innovation and Skills (but I’m not holding out much hope – Wales remains a place government by very backward looking stubborn politicians who say they are open to new ideas but remain essentially closed to new ideas – maybe Deputy Minister Lesley Griffiths will prove to be an exception, and then be ‘boxed’ by others in Welsh Labour who remain stubborn and/or don’t want to know).

Essentially, the idea is to convert potential Welsh IP (which is about to evaporate) into valued American IP with a feedback loop to generate wealth and jobs in Wales on a massive scale. From nothing to something that in time will be worth millions and finally hundreds of millions if not billions to Wales in terms of real job creation in the private sector helping to turn around the current status quo where job growth has been largely confined to the Welsh public sector spending grant money – an economic model that is unsustainable.

Anyway, a one page proposal is before the Deputy Minister for Science, Innovation and Skills – one page and headings suggested by a close friend of the Minister.