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    Default Icetech failure - latest

    Support for jobless workers as hunt begins to find a buyer for Castletown freezer firm

    AS Caithness tried to come to terms with a major jobs loss, today, following the failure of Castletown firm Icetech, community leaders pledged to do all they can to help the 70 workers who have lost their jobs.
    New owners are being sought for the village’s major employer after the firm went into administration. Most of its staff were made redundant on Monday and the company was put into provisional liquidation the next day. But politicians haven’t given up hope that a buyer can be found and what has been described as “a major economic blow”, avoided.
    Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross MSP, Rob Gibson, said that the area currently has a good employment record, in energy and in oil and gas and renewables.
    However, he added: “There are other jobs but the skills that are special to the firm that has been going for 40 years are ones that are valuable to the area. I want to make sure that HIE and the Government do their best to make sure that they are retained.”
    HIE’s Roy Kirk said: “We are working closely with the liquidater and we are very interested in any businesses that would like to take advantage of this great site and indeed the skills in the area. HIE can provide grants and connections, help with international trade and a number of other business service to help the company flourish in Caithness.”
    Deidre Mackay who chairs Highland Council’s Caithness and Sutherland area committee, said that with Icetech being such a big employer in the area, they are doing all they can to help the workforce find new employment.
    She went on: “It is an absolute tragedy not only for the employees but their families for which it is absolutely devastating. The jobs loss is taking a large amount of money out of the economy which can’t afford to lose it which is why it is vitally important we address the issue with haste. We are anxious to ensure that everything possible is done through involving Highland Council and other agencies.”
    David Hunter, of chartered accountants Campbell Dallas, said the small Castletown community could be hit hard following the bitter economic blow.
    He told BBC Radio Scotland: "Our first job is to find out if there is a buyer for this business. If we are not able to sell the company, we will have to sell off all the equipment and make everyone permanently redundant. That would be pretty awful for Castletown which would be badly affected as Icetech is a very large employer in the area."
    Mr Hunter said Icetech's parent company, John G Russell Transport, had started the process of finding a new owner for the freezer manufacturer six months ago.
    He said Icetech had been facing two challenges - competition from cheaper Chinese imports and last year's collapse of the Comet electrical goods chain.
    Mr Hunter said: "Icetech spent a lot of money making sure all their products complied with regulations."
    He added: "Comet went out of business owing a significant amount of money. The parent company was left with 900,000 of a loss and it was Russells and not the banks that was financing the business."
    Icetech was formerly known as Norfrost, a company that was headed by a former businesswoman of the year, Pat Grant.
    John G Russell bought Norfrost out of administration in 2005 and changed its name but kept some of the Norfrost branding.
    According to Icetech Freezers' website, the business was producing 160,000 appliances a year at its Castleton site.
    Since the launch of the original company 40 years ago, the firm has built and sold about 10 million products.
    Last edited by Bill Fernie; 25-Apr-13 at 11:22.

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