Port Talbot Remploy workers made redundant start new business
IT IS a new start for a group of disabled Port Talbot Remploy workers who have begun a new business venture.
Following the closure of the Remploy Furniture business based in Baglan, a team headed by Mike Jenkins has re-launched its operations through their own new company, R2 Furniture Solutions Limited.
Mr Jenkins has brought back seven employees who have been made redundant to start the new business which will be based at Eagle House in Port Talbot.
"Remploy was such a well-known and well-respected name in education and it would have been a tragedy to lose all the goodwill and expertise built over many years," said Mr Jenkins, who worked at Remploy for 31 years as a merchandiser manager.
"We have been fortunate in receiving a huge amount of support from suppliers who have been happy to work with R2, which means will now actually have even greater capability to service requirements from new build projects and refurbishments through to ad hoc replacements through wear and tear.
"The business plan for the new company indicates that the team will grow over the coming year and the funding support from the Welsh Government will be key to ensuring the priority is given to disabled workers from the former Remploy business."
Roy Whitney from Cadoxton worked at Remploy for 30 years.
"I have been off for a month now and I am ready to return to work," said the 59-year-old who lost use of his left arm in 1973 following a motorbike accident."I'm not ready to retire yet. I miss the officer and the atmosphere."
Mr Whitney said he was looking forward to working with many of his former colleagues."They are such a great bunch to work with," he said.
Amanda Francis from Morriston finished working at the Baglan factory on Thursday.
"There is a small contingency there packing things up," she said.
"It has been very hard in the office watching people leave."
Kay Wood, 46 from Tycroes worked at Remploy for 21 years.
"We were hoping until the last minute that someone would take over the business," she said."We knew it was coming but it was a shock.
"Mike got in touch and said he was looking to put something together."We all know how we work together which is nice."
Aberavon MP Hywel Francis and AM David Rees have warmly welcomed the launch of the new business.
In a joint statement they said: "This is a marvellous achievement, down to the hard work of a group of former Remploy employees determined to maintain local work opportunities and local skills for disabled men and women in the Port Talbot area.
"It has been a privilege to work with them and we would like to thank the Welsh Government and Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council for their invaluable backing."
The previous Remploy business was known particularly for supply into the education sector.
While R2 intend to continue this focus, they will now be able to extend their activities, offering the same level of knowledge and expertise to customers in other sectors, both public and private.
Mike Jenkins added that he wanted to extend his thanks to those who had been so helpful in setting up the new venture.
"Without the unfailing support of local MP Hywel Francis, AM David Rees, the business consultants from Oxygen8 Solutions and funding line from RBS Invoice Finance we would never have got this off the ground. We would also like to place on record our thanks to Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council for their advice and support."