Haynes jobs at risk as firm announces move from Sparkford
ICONIC car manual publisher Haynes Publishing has announced plans to close its headquarters in Sparkford.
The company said tough trading conditions had forced it to make difficult decisions affecting employees, but only a "relatively small number of roles" would be lost in its UK business.
Plans for restructuring include relocating operations at the current Sparkford site, which employs around 70 people, to a "more suitably sized premises" while its in-house distribution facility at the same location will shut with its work being outsourced to a logistics provider.
According to a report released by the business, car manual sales have fallen by seven per cent on last year while the company's general publishing arm's sales were down 18 per cent.
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Haynes is merging the separate divisions into a single UK editorial department which will focus its strategy on the more profitable Haynes Owner Workshop Manuals.
It is also setting up a new global website to develop practical advice in a number of different languages and through a range of different devices. This is already available in English.
Since Haynes Publishing was founded in 1960, more than 150 million Haynes Manuals have sold throughout the world.
But sales of the handbooks have been falling over recent years and demand for general book publishing has declined.
The company said it had managed to weather the storm of the economic downturn but there were few signs of the pressures it faced easing off in the near future.
Chief executive Eric Oakley said its current headquarters "no longer meets the requirements of a modern information publishing business".
He added: "The investment that would be needed to upgrade the UK facility for the requirements of a modern-day logistics operation would far outweigh the future benefit to the business.
"The board has therefore concluded it is no longer commercially feasible to maintain a UK distribution facility and the process of transferring this part of the business to a third-party logistics provider will begin shortly."
"Whilst any business decision which impacts on our existing and often long-serving employee base is difficult to make, the board believes that the changes to the UK operations are vital at this time to put the UK business back on a firm financial footing from which we can grow the business."
Justin Crawford, chairman of Sparkford Parish Council, described the announcement as "a blow" to the village.
"It is sad - both because of the employment and also because it could mark the end of a very long relationship between the publishing business and the village. Haynes Publishing and the print works have been in Sparkford from their earliest days," he said.
John Haynes OBE wrote and published his first book, on building an Austin 7 Special, whilst he was still at school in 1956. He wrote two more special builders' manuals while doing his National Service in the RAF. The first official Haynes Owners Workshop Manual, for the Austin Healey 'Frogeye' Sprite, was published in 1966.
Haynes Motor Museum will remain in Sparkford.