The news that Crosslee will stop manufacturing at its Hipperholme factory has been described as “a crushing blow”.
The tumble dryer manufacturer has announced it is to cease production at the works, citing rising costs, imports from abroad and competition from online retailers.
The company says it is no longer viable to continue to manufacture tumble dryers and that a period of collective consultation will now begin with staff to look at alternative options to closure.
Unite regional officer Karl Stephenson said: “The closure of the Crosslee plant is a crushing blow to the workforce, their families and, more generally, to the West Yorkshire economy.
“Unite has a handful of members at the site and in the coming days and weeks , we will be offering them maximum support – and we will be exploring with the management redeployment opportunities across the company.”
Colin Raistrick, independent councillor for the Hipperholme and Lightcliffe Ward, said: “I hope they can sell it. It’s been a major employer in the area. It employed 650 people at one time, and two of my neighbours worked there.
“I hope they look after people who have worked there for a long time.
“I can’t say I’m surprised by the news. I think the main concern for local residents will be what happens to the site going forward. It’s a big site.
“There has been a Hipperholme master plan in the past for the big site across the road with plans for shops and a supermarket.
“It doesn’t want to be left derelict but it’s only 500 yards from the crossroads, which needs to be taken into account.
“There will be a knock-on effect for the whole community. People who work there won’t be buying sandwiches and things like that, so it’s bound to have an effect.”
George Robinson, Conservative councillor for the Hipperholme and Lightcliffe Ward, said: “Crosslee has been Hipperholme’s manufacturing powerhouse for decades, home to the renowned White Knight brand.
“The company has put Hipperholme on the map, whilst providing employment for local people and supporting local events.
“This announcement is sad for the local community, however understandable given the continuous pressure cheap imports from outside the EU have exerted on UK manufacturing.
“I understand there is a consultation considering alternative options. I hope to work closely with the company to ensure any outcome will have a positive impact on the Hipperholme area.”
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy told the Courier they are monitoring the situation but that it won’t be taking any action at the moment as no redundancies have been announced.