A MAJOR factory is being shut with the loss of 260 jobs.
The closure of CD manufacturing plant by Entertainment Distribution Company (EDC) has been called the most significant blow to the manufacturing sector in the area since the recession began.
EDC is moving its production from the factory in Philips Road, Whitebirk, Blackburn, to another plant in Hanover, Germany, after a 90-day consultation is complete.
The American-owned firm blamed increased internet music downloads and the recession for hitting sales.
Workers, who had been expected cutbacks at the firm, said they had been left ‘shell shocked’ that bosses had decided to shut the plant.
East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce boss Mike Damms said: “It is gravely disappointing news and probably about the most significant blow to the manufacturing sector in the area.
“It is unfortunate that jobs will disappear but the staff at the plant have a reputation as very hard working and are highly skilled and I am sure they will be successful in looking for new jobs.”
EDC produces CDs, DVDs and covers for the music industry and has been operating in Blackburn for 27 years under a number of different owners.
It is based opposite Microtech Solutions, the former Philips Components and Mullard Radio Valve factory. EDC itself was formerly part of the Philips group.
EDC had hit the headlines in recent years after it was chosen to produce the singles from X-Factor winners, including Leona Lewis.
But the firm had been facing recent problems, including contracts lost when Woolworths went out of business and increased competition from Eastern Europe.
Just last year staff were told the company would operate on five days a week, down from seven.
GMB official Graham Coxon said workers were shell-shocked by yesterday morning’s announcement.
He said: “We knew this day may come but no-one thought it would happen now.
“There has been a big decline in DVD and CD sales. We all thought any announcement would just be about downsizing, not a complete closure.” Roger Morgan, the vice president of international operations at EDC, said: From a business point of view this will make us stronger, but it has been a very difficult decision.
“We are in the middle of a very severe economic recession and along with a huge decline in demand for CDs and increased competition from abroad it has hit us hard.
“We looked at selling the business, or downsizing, but this made the most business sense.”
One member of staff rom EDC who contacted the Lancashire Telegraph said she had worked at the factory for 15 years.
She said: “I have two young children to support so this decision has left me very angry. We are all in shock.”
Another worker said: “I feel sick, we are all so upset.
"A lot of that staff have been there for years and years. We have shown loyalty but it hasn’t been returned.”
GOBBLEDYGOOK WAY THEY BROKE THE NEWS
"EDC determined to consummate such a Blackburn-Hannover volume consolidation now precisely due to the prudency of engaging in such a transaction while EDC Blackburn Ltd possesses the strength to accomplish it without duress.
EDC has determined to effect the closure of EDC’s Blackburn optical disc facility."
- EDC statement