REACTION: 100 jobs at Sudbury call centre under threat, as logistics company Prolog enters into administration
Approximately 100 jobs at one of Sudbury’s major employers are at risk, after the company entered into administration this week.
Promotional Logistics Ltd, a warehousing and distribution business that trades under the name Prolog, began its administration process on Monday, after the withdrawal of financial support by a group company.
The situation threatens the future of 96 employees, plus additional agency staff, at Prolog’s contact centre in Northern Road.
The firm, which had a workforce of 400 people in the town at its peak, has now appointed administrators from Mazars, which informed staff and customers it will support Prolog to continue trading for a period, while it is marketed for sale.
Simon Chandler, head of restructuring services of Mazars, said: “Even at this early stage, I would like to thank staff and customers for their positivity and support at a very difficult time.
“We are seeking to engage with all stakeholders to find a way forward that minimises disruption, and gives us the best chance of retaining the workforce.”
The announcement comes just four years after Prolog received planning permission for a new £50 million warehouse on land off Church Field Road, which stood to create up to 500 new jobs.
However, the plans were quashed at a judicial review in 2016, following an appeal by campaigners.
At the time, the Sudbury Chamber of Commerce (CoC) voiced their anger and warned the decision could impact Prolog’s future.
Reacting to the news this week, Sudbury CoC president John McMillan told the Free Press: “It’s never good to hear of this happening to a chamber member, indeed to any company in Sudbury.
“This is especially so, as Prolog wanted to expand fairly recently.
“Sudbury definitely does not want to lose another large, long-standing company right now.
“I understand the administrators are hoping to keep the company alive and retain the workforce, and we very much hope they will succeed.”
Those who opposed the company’s expansion rejected the notion that their campaign had harmed Prolog, or that the plans were only defeated on a technicality.
They argued the development would have damaged heritage assets, natural wildlife and habitats, while there were also concerns about conditions that could have allowed Prolog to sell the site on.
Nick Miller, secretary of the Sudbury Area Green Belt Group, added: "There are many people who are against this development, and who think the jobs could have been created by Prolog on Chilton Woods
"The objection to planning was not a technicality but would never have got past the Secretary of State if referred to him."
Since then, the firm has remained in Sudbury, although it sold its office in North Street, where it had been based for 20 years, earlier this year for £1.75m, after relocating to Northern Road.
South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge said: “This is obviously very concerning news, and the administrator’s focus must now be on finding a way forward that secures the employment on the site.
“I appreciate that this must be a deeply unnerving time for the staff, and my thoughts are with them throughout this process.”
The news places further uncertainty around local employment, with discussions still ongoing around the future of more than 500 jobs at the Delphi Diesel Systems factory in Newton Road, which has been earmarked for closure by 2020.
Luke Cresswell, Sudbury town and district councillor, said: "It is very sad to hear Prolog is going in to administration.
"It is particularly frustrating when only a few years ago they were talking of expansion.
"When we look at the wider context of Sudbury, with Delphi closing too, we seem to be losing local jobs, not increasing them.
"This is very concerning with all the development of housing in and around our town.
"The jobs market is gloomy in the Sudbury area at the moment, to say the least. We need decent, well paid local jobs.
"Until we get this, along with the promised investment in infrastructure, some of the planning and building of new housing may need to be put on hold."