Families tell of shock as 229 jobs are lost at tobacco supply firm

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HUNDREDS of staff at a major tobacco supplier in Fareham have lost their jobs after the firm went into administration.

In total, 229 staff have been made redundant at two Palmer & Harvey sites. Nationally, 2,500 staff lost their jobs.

The company employs 266 people at sites in Barnes Wallis Road and Crompton Way in Segensworth.

The 90-year-old firm has appointed PwC as administrator after ‘challenging trading conditions’ heaped pressure on its cash flow and efforts to revive the business failed.

The group entered takeover talks with the Carlyle Group in October, but these fell through.

Relatives of those affected spoke of their shock online.

Tracy Mackinnon said on Facebook: ‘My husband has worked for this company for 15 years.

‘He and his colleagues are devastated by the news they received today.’

Roz Turner said: ‘My uncle has worked for this company for near on 20 years.

‘Absolutely disgusting how they were told their jobs were gone just like that. And not even sure about redundancy?

‘Right on Christmas. Absolutely heartbroken family.

‘He won’t find a job now at the age of 60+ and he will forced by benefits to look for jobs he has no idea how to do. This job was all he knew.’

Councillor Seán Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council said: ‘Hundreds of loyal workers are now in danger of losing their jobs.

‘We would regard this as a major economic shock to south Hampshire.

‘I will be discussing it with my Solent LEP colleagues to see what help we can put in place to support anyone losing their jobs.

‘It’s a major economic shock to the area and terrible to come at this time of year.

‘I hope very much PwC will be able to trade in administration and sell it on to someone.

‘They’ve got orders to fulfil and stock and the administrator has to maximise value of the company.’

P&H, the UK’s biggest supplier of cigarettes, employs a total of 3,400 people and also provides alcohol, groceries and frozen food to 90,000 retail accounts, including Tesco.

Matthew Callaghan, joint administrator and PwC partner, said: 
‘This is a devastating blow for everyone who has been involved in the business.

‘The administration team will focus on working with employees, clients and suppliers to facilitate a smooth and effective wind-down or transfer of operations over the next few weeks.

‘The company has insufficient cash resources to continue to trade beyond the short term and the directors have concluded that there is no longer any reasonable prospect of a sale.

‘Therefore, the directors have had no choice but appoint administrators.’