Wednesday, December 02, 2009 - News - Business News - 13 stairlift jobs risk - News - Business News - 13 stairlift jobs risk

STAIRLIFT manufacturer ThyssenKrupp is to rescope its business at Stockton, which will cease assembly of new products and concentrate instead on sales, marketing and service.

The news ends months of speculation that the German stairlift giant, part of the much larger global technology and steelmaking group ThyssenKrupp AG, was closing its UK subsidiary and consolidating production in mainland Europe. However the reorganisation will put 13 out of a total of 80 jobs at risk, the company confirmed today.

ThyssenKrupp, which continues to trade under the Lift Able brand bought from founder Jim Simmonds in March 2008 for around £9m, said it would continue to expand from its Stockton base, which was acquired as part of a strategy to get a foothold in the UK market for stairlifts - one of the biggest in the world.

Since buying into the country, the company has expanded the Lift Able product range to include curved and platform lifts and said its share grew at twice the market rate last year of 5% - at 12.5%. That was driven largely by public sector contracts in the care home and private housing sectors.

As a result the company said it was recruiting sales and marketing staff for its teams at Stockton and a smaller division in Warrrington, Cheshire. It would also continue to support an assembly team to meet the growing demand for reconditioned stairlifts, hundreds of which are stored at its Stockton plant. It had no plans to downsize the premises, which are on a long-term lease.

The reorganisation of Lift Able, part of ThyssenKrupp Accessibility division, coincides with plans revealed in the group’s generally downbeat annual results last week to streamline operations and cut costs. Although the group reported a loss of euro1.87 billion, compared with a net profit of euro2.3 billion the previous year, Accessibility emerged as one of the few segments that continued to build on a strong order book.

Plans to cut 5,000 jobs and sell divisions employing another 15,000 people would largely affect those employed in the conglomerate’s steelmaking operations.