Hopes for a rescue plan to save Axminster Carpets
Crisis talks continued at historic manufacturer Axminster Carpets as administrators tried to work out a rescue plan to keep the firm afloat.
Bosses left more than 400 workers at its two plants – in Axminster and Buckfastleigh – shocked and facing an agonising period of uncertainty after an application to go into administration was served on Wednesday.
Company representatives, union officials and workers, who say they are not being paid at the moment, met again yesterday in the Devon factory.
Community union campaign manager Lorraine Gaskell remained upbeat about the chances of saving the carpet maker.
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"We are still talking" she told the Western Morning News. "I have been speaking to members again to give us a much clearer picture.
"It is still early days and the situation is changing – we are working to make sure members get all the right help and advice."
The company, which employs more than 400 staff, said it will continue to trade while it explores all options.
Insolvency experts said it was now almost certain that the company would officially be placed in the hands of administrators.
Selling the business as a going concern remains a possibility and there is still hope that the world-renowned name could survive, possibly in a scaled down form.
And though Axminster Carpets reportedly told its staff they would not be paid for ten days, it is expected that the Government will pay any lost wages and join any list of creditors in the event of administration.
A spokesman for the company said the notice of intent to go into administration had been filed with the court.
Richard Merrin said there was currently a "window of opportunity" during which a solution could be found without the need for administration.
However, he admitted the firm could be placed in the hands of Duff & Phelps at any time, including "over the weekend if they choose".
The company put workers on a four-day week last year.
But the latest announcement shocked the local community and is predicted to go down as "Black Wednesday" if the company goes under.
Colin Naughton, 76, who lives a short walk from the Axminster factory, said it had come as a "big blow".
"There is not enough manufacturing as it is and this firm is known worldwide."
Town mayor Andrew Moulding, who is also deputy leader of East Devon District Council, said there was "good reason to hope" the firm can continue trading, albeit in a different format.
"The next few days and weeks will be crucial – I remain optimistic that something can be salvaged to ensure this iconic name, so synonymous with quality and resilience, continues for many years to come".