“Stanley is a great Waterford brand, as synonymous with the city as Waterford Crystal, so of course it’s sad to think that production is going to end here in October. I know we’ve a few months to take it in and try and make sense of it, but to be honest, that doesn’t make it any easier. It’s just terrible, terrible news.”
In a statement issued on Wednesday last, its parent company, The Middleby Corporation made its “further restructuring” plans for its Waterford business public.
“Towards the end of this year, it is proposed that manufacturing of its cast iron heating stoves and cookers will cease in Waterford and will be outsourced. The company remains committed to maintaining Waterford Stanley as the market-leading brand in stoves and cookers in Ireland and intends to continue to operate its sales, distribution, spare parts, marketing, after sales service, R&D and finance in Waterford,” the statement read.
“Regrettably, there will be a 58 per cent reduction in the workforce from 57 to 24, which is expected to affect most areas of the business. It is planned that these changes will take place on a phased basis over five months from October.”
This decision was part of “a wider rationalisation of the business by The Middleby Corporation including the closure of the Coalbrookdale Foundry in the UK, which supplies cast iron to Waterford”.
The statement added that there were “significant ongoing losses and high production costs in Waterford”, and that pending EU regulatory changes “for heating appliances such as those produced in Waterford would require additional substantial investment”.
In reaction, Minister of State John Halligan (IA) described the news as “devastating for the workers and their families and it will also have a knock-on effect in the wider community also…The Government will make every State support available to employees impacted.
“Waterford Stanley has seen off some tough times in the past and it is deeply regrettable that owners The Middleby Corporation, having undertaken a strategic review, is to reduce its Waterford workforce. It is a dark day for this historic Waterford company.”
Fianna Fáil TD Mary Butler, who chairs the Oireachtas Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Committee said it was “a sad day for Waterford, and even sadder day for the 33 people who will lose their jobs”.
She added: “Stanley cookers have been bringing warmth and comfort to Irish homes for generations, and the company has been synonymous with Waterford for decades, with the first ever Stanley cooker being produced in 1936…
“This is a heart wrenching day for the workers who will lose their jobs, and of course their families. Many come from a long line of Stanley workers stretching back to the 1930s.
“This is part of a deeply worrying trend and as a country we need to put in place the supports required to retain existing manufacturing jobs in Ireland.”
Deputy David Cullinane (SF) contextualised the job losses on “the back of CSO figures which show that the South East has the highest rate of unemployment in the State”. He stated: “Successive governments have overlooked Waterford and the South East. I repeat again, the region needs investment in infrastructure and jobs creation in order to sustain itself, but the political will is simply not there at the moment. Waterford needs strong and decisive leadership. We need the Government to deliver. I will do all that I can to make this happen.”
A disappointed Senator Grace O’Sullivan (GP) said that a ‘remote’ management scenario, had led to the job losses at Stanley, a decision she described as being “all about money, with no value on people or place.
“The hard work of good Waterford men and women has made this company an internationally recognised brand,” she said.
“It has been built on the dedication and graft of the highly skilled and creative workers. Yet again we see this unfair and sad situation where the people of Waterford and the city and county will see little or no material benefit, while faraway fat-cats can trade and profit on a reputation and brand that was founded and built in the Deise.”
Said Waterford Chamber Chief Executive Gerald Hurley: “This is very concerning and a disappointing announcement for Waterford. The recent CSO figures showing unemployment for the region as the highest in the country at 9.4 per cent does not make for light reading and this is an additional blow.
“Waterford Stanley has been a significant employer in the city for many years and a loyal member of Waterford Chamber. We offer every assistance to them at this difficult time. We are calling on the Government and local agencies to step up and make job creation within the region an immediate priority.”
The company has entered into a formal 30-day consultation period with employees and their representatives to finalise the details of the pending changes in Waterford. However, Stanley will continue to operate normally in the interim.
According to the Middleby Corporation’s Najib Maalouf: “We are committed to developing the market-leading Waterford Stanley brand in Ireland.
“These structural changes are part of a wider restructuring of our overall cast-iron business and will allow Waterford Stanley to create the conditions that will enable investment in new product development and allow the brand to flourish in the long term.
“We regret that there must be changes to the workforce, but we are consulting with employees and trade unions to ensure that this difficult process is managed sensitively.”