Oct 30 2008 by Sandra Walls, Hamilton Advertiser
Relief as last-gasp deal saves 100 jobs
MORE than 100 Lanarkshire jobs were saved last week after a last-minute deal was struck to buy stricken pre-cast concrete manufacturers Bison Concrete Products Limited.
Workers at Bison’s Uddingston-based factory had faced redundancy, but construction company Laing O’Rourke came to the rescue last Wednesday afternoon.
The last-minute deal meant the Uddingston factory, and another two in England, will now be managed by Laing O’Rourke.
The jobs of the majority of the 450-strong workforce across the three regions are understood to have been saved by the deal.
Douglas Walls, from Whitehill, a design estimator, spoke to the Advertiser last Thursday.
He said: “I have worked with Bison for over eight years and am now based at the company’s Falkirk office.
“I previously worked in the manufacturing plant at Uddingston for six of those years.
“At 3pm last Wednesday, every employee was made redundant from their posts. Two minutes later, we were all Laing O’Rourke staff.”
Laing O’Rourke is part of a consortium of investors which has acquired the majority operations of Bison.
However, the deal did not include Bison's Leeds site, in Stourton, which left around 99 jobs at risk of being lost.
Bison has been operating in Uddingston since 2000.
Global head of manufacturing for Laing O’Rourke, Greg Ward, explained: “The deal created an opportunity for Bison to bounce back quickly from its receivership.
“This was a great business but has been swept away by the economic downturn, like many others in the industry.
“I want to emphasise that we are determined to turn Bison back into a great business once again.”
Mr Walls added: “I know that staff members in Falkirk and Uddingston were relieved that their jobs were safe after they were told about the change-over at a special meeting held last week.
“I have every confidence that staff will be able to go forward and progress positively under the new management.”
Alex Neil, SNP MSP for Central Scotland, said: “The news that no jobs will be lost in Uddingston following Bison going into receivership is fantastic news.
“It is very sad that other areas will suffer from this market-related move and I hope jobs are found for those made redundant. If the jobs at the Bison factory had gone it would have been incredibly damaging to Lanarkshire, but now the plant will get more work and hopefully more jobs as a result.”
PricewaterhouseCoopers were appointed administrative receivers to Bison last Wednesday.
Joint receiver Rob Hunt said: “In common with many companies operating in the construction and house-building sector, Bison has suffered significantly from a reduction of activity in the market.
“Through the support of the key stakeholders to the receivership process we achieved an immediate sale of the business to Bison Manufacturing Limited backed by Laing O’Rourke plc and other financial stakeholders.”