Jobs on the line at Huntingdon factory after sales slow-down

Inkjet technology firm Xaar could cut a fifth of its workforce due to a lack of sales.

Inkjet technology firm Xaar could cut a fifth of its workforce due to a lack of sales. - Credit: Sarah Allison

More than 100 jobs could be cut at a Huntingdon factory after the company’s sales were hit by a slow-down in China’s construction sector.

Inkjet technology firm Xaar, which employs 800 people worldwide, could cut around a fifth of its workforce with 120 of the jobs expected to be at its Huntingdon base.

The company currently employs 400 people at the factory, at Ermine Business Park, and produces technology and equipment used for inkjet printing and manufacturing, including printing patterns onto ceramic tiles used by builders in China.

Chief executive Ian Dinwoodie said: “It is all subject to consultation. We are looking to cut up to 120 roles overall, so up to 100 on the shop floor and then about 20 overhead roles.

“The consultation starts this week and we hope to see this through by the end of the year.”

Xaar issued a profit warning this year as it relies on ceramic tiles for about two-thirds of its revenues, almost half of which is in China.

The firm’s revenues had tripled in the previous four years as demand increased from tile manufacturers supplying China’s construction industry. But the ceramic tiles market began to slow down in 2014. Xaar, which celebrates its 25th anniversary next year, saw share prices fall to £2.40 from last year’s record high of £11.62.

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Mr Dinwoodie said the tile market had been the fastest to convert to digital printing and Xaar had responded to demand.

He added that the company’s future plan is to grow in a broader range of areas other than ceramic tiles to ensure that less jobs would be affected by market fluctuations.

This would include focussing on other areas of print technology such as labelling, packaging, laminate flooring and wide-format graphic printers.

Mr Dinwoodie said: “The other applications are doing ok, but they are making smaller gains than ceramic tiles at the moment.”

Staff are currently under consultation with workers potentially losing their jobs in December.