Yate tumble dryer factory could close, with loss of 150 jobs

THE operator of Yate’s tumble dryer factory says it could close the plant, with the loss of around 150 jobs.

Beko Europe says the tumble dryers produced at the site are becoming less popular, updating the site to make newer models is “not technically or economically feasible” and the site has been making a “significant loss for some time”.

The company made an announcement today, which said: “Subject to employee consultation, Beko Europe is exploring the potential closure of production at its Yate site.

“Closure of site could result in approximately 150 positions becoming redundant.

“The proposal comes in response to changing consumer demand and competitiveness challenges posed by the site setup.”

Annoucement follows merger

Beko Europe was formed three months ago by a merger of US-owned Whirlpool Corporation’s Europe, Middle East, and Africa with Beko BV, owned by Turkish manufacturer Arcelik.

The plant is run by Beko BV subsidiary Hotpoint UK Appliances Ltd.

Beko said: “Following consultation, the closure of the Yate site could result in approximately 150 positions becoming redundant. 

“The site currently produces tumble dryers for the UK and Ireland markets.

“In recent years, these products have become less popular with consumers in favour of more advanced and energy efficient heat pump technologies.

“EU legislation will soon ensure new tumble dryers will need to be produced with heat pump technology, and this legislation is also likely to be adopted by the United Kingdom in the future.

“Beko Europe’s proposal, subject to consultation, is that it is not technically or economically feasible to remodel the Yate site to continue operations.

“It is for these reasons that Beko Europe has announced that its subsidiary will enter into a consultation to explore potentially closing the facility.”

The announcement was made as the news cycle was being dominated by coverage of the general election.

Factory is making ‘significant’ losses

Teresa Arbuckle, Regional Managing Director (UK and Ireland) at Beko Europe, said “We know this news will be difficult to hear for our employees, on-site contractors, and the whole community.

“The Yate site has a superb workforce, with real commitment and strong leadership, and we are grateful for their continued efforts during this challenging time.

“The facility has been operating at a significant loss for some time, and over the past few years, despite continued investment in the site, demand for the appliances produced here has rapidly decreased as consumers purchase more advanced and energy efficient models. 

“Pending consultation, if positions are made redundant, Beko Europe will do all we can to support the employees who may potentially be affected.

“Employees continue to have access to the usual support from HR, business leaders and the Employee Assistance Programme but should the proposal to close the site go ahead, the business would look to provide additional outplacement and other relevant support.

“We have contacted the site’s new Member of Parliament and South Gloucestershire Council, and we will listen carefully to the local community as the consultation processes progress.”

The company said all workers will continue to be employed “on full pay and benefits” while the consultation process is underway.

Council owns factory site

The factory site was bought from Whirlpool by South Gloucestershire Council in 2021 for just under £10 million.

At the time Whirlpool said the move was a “common business practice” and insisted it remained “totally committed to Yate”.

The council’s then Conservative cabinet member for corporate resources, Ben Burton said the deal fitted the council’s “long-term aspiration…to be an enabler of regeneration”.

Speaking at the announcement of the deal, he said: “Owning land at key locations in the area will ensure that we have a degree of control over its future use, should the current occupiers wish to relocate in the future.”

New Thornbury & Yate MP Claire Young was leader of the council’s Liberal Democrat group at the time, and called for an economic development plan for Yate to be drawn up.