GKN may close Yeovil factory
So finally the impact of the award to Boeing, earlier this year for military helicopters has come home to roost. Leonardo has said it will have to take building the frames in-house. No word as yet as to where, but it seems unlikely that this will be in Somerset.
In the meantime GKN, the company who had been doing the work at the Westland site, have announced that there will be significant redundancies and the possibility that the plant will have to close. GKN currently employ 230 staff in Yeovil. And so far no comment from Yeovil’s MP Marcus Fysh
A spokesperson for GKN announced that “We have been informed by Leonardo Helicopters that due to changes in their demand for helicopters, they will relocate all future AW159 Wild Cat assembly and detail work away from the GKN facility on the Leonardo Yeovil site to one of their own facilities. Leonardo’s decision to take this work in-house means an immediate end to any future AW159 Wild Cat orders being placed with GKN Yeovil.
Having completed a thorough assessment of the business, including our on-going order book, capabilities and cost base, we have regrettably concluded that GKN Yeovil, as it stands today, is no longer a sustainable business and will have to be significantly downsized or fully closed. We will now enter a period of consultation with nominated employee representatives.”
That change in demand referred to in the statement above, is, in essence the decision back in May by the Conservative Government to award a contract to build 50 new helicopters worth £2bn to American aerospace company Boeing.
This has been an accident waiting to happen. One might be forgiven for thinking that all the talk of a new industrial policy and new support for British industry in the post Brexit era, is just that, talk.