Firm to close after 72 years

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Pontefract engineering firm Philidas - which has been in the town for more than 70 years - will close at the end of the month.

The internationally known company - which manufactures metal fasteners and bolts for the car industry - will shut on January 31, with the loss of 28 jobs.

Manchester company Francis Kirk took on the Monkhill Lane business after it went into administration in April last year.

But the company confirmed this week it will move production to a nut manufacturer in Mumbai, India, from the end of the month.

Yvette Cooper, Pontefract and Castleford MP, said: “It’s a real tragedy that such a historic Pontefract brand will be moving away from the town and that jobs are being lost as a result.

“Francis Kirk has questions to answer. If they have simply come in and bought the firm to sell it off for a quick profit, that’s simply not good enough.”

Staff at the site – which first opened in 1942 – were told about the closure on January 6.

One employee, who did not want to be named, said: “It’s devastating what has happened to the firm but I think a lot of us saw it coming.

“To me, it’s as if the firm took Philidas on but never wanted to make it work because they have sold the brand to a firm in India.

“I’ve got three children to support and I’m going to be out of work. There aren’t many other places where we could transfer our skills across.”

Tom Kirk, director at Francis Kirk, said: “The decision to close Philidas came due to a lack of commitment in the market place and an order book that could not support the high overheads incurred in British manufacturing.

“Francis Kirk has taken the decision that over the coming 15 years they will trade out of the £750,000 debt that they incurred and have had no input or return from Philidas manufacturing accounts to repay this debt.

“We are in discussion with SML about opportunities for employees to experience Indian culture and employment out in Mumbai so all avenues are not shut.

“The main thing is to keep the Philidas brand in the market place and available to the industries that require it.

“It is untrue that anyone is buying the company - that is furthest from the truth.”

Mr Kirk also said he attempted to contact Ms Cooper when Francis Kirk took over Philidas in April.

He added: “I tried to get backing and support from the local MP and got no support or contact.

“So for her to come out at the eleventh hour again to say that Francis Kirk are making a quick profit goes against anything that is actually true.”