Closure, takeover force redundancies

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A UNIQUE Brighouse business has shut its doors and another company has been taken over amid fears of job losses.

Sagar Marine Ltd built luxury barges for almost 40 years at its base in Wharf Street next to Brighouse Marina.

The company, established in 1975 by Stephen and Wendy Sagar, had a high reputation for the quality of its craftsmanship and unique Dutch barges.

But over the last 12 months the economic climate had meant a drop in business for the family firm which has now gone into voluntary liquidation.

Director Stephen Sagar said the reluctant decision had been taken due to a downturn in trade.

“Over the last 12 months the lack of business has just got worse due to the economic climate,” he said. “We decided to go into voluntary liquidation so all the suppliers and customers have been paid and no-one has been left out of pocket.

“I am more disappointed about the five redundancies we made as most of them had been with the company for at least 25 years.”

Working alongside their sons Jonathan and Andrew, the Sagars built up a reputation in the waterways world and were awarded the coveted John Beardsmore award for excellence for their type of craft.

When the Sagars started, they were virtually the only boat builders of their type in the area and one of only a handful in the country. They did everything themselves from building the original steel hull to carpentry and upholstery work.

Initially specialising in traditional and semi-traditional narrow boats, they built their first Dutch-style barge in 1991 and introduced their Mini-Luxe, designed specially for use on UK canals in 1993.

A second Brighouse business which started as a cottage industry and became one of the fastest growing companies in the north of England has been bought out.

Ceramic Prints Ltd, which has a factory at George Street, has been bought by British Ceramic Tile (BCT) of Devon for an undisclosed sum.

News of the take-over comes with a warning that jobs may have to go as part of efforts to streamline the two operations.

BCT has about 300 employees and Ceramic Prints has about 130. It is not yet known where the jobs will be lost but BCT chief executive Matthew Gazzard said the firm envisaged there would be fewer than 100 redundancies from among the 430 staff of the combined businesses.

A 30-day period of consultation with employee representatives is now underway.

Tony Taylor, who started Ceramic Prints in his garage in Birkby in 1983, will stay on as commercial director with British Ceramic Tiles which will become one of the largest tile companies in the UK.

In 2003 Ceramic Prints was named as the 56th fastest growing company in the UK and the 11th fastest in the north of England.