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Firm’s financial troubles before dozens of Perth workers sacked

Fishers workers. Picture taken prior to Covid-19.
Fishers workers. Picture taken prior to Covid-19.

The financial troubles of a Fife firm prior to more than 80 staff being made redundant have been revealed.

Commercial laundry firm Fishers has disclosed it lost 90% of its revenue before making the decision to axe staff and close its Perth depot.

The Inveralmond laundry depot closed at the end of May with the loss of 84 jobs.

Significant adverse impact

Newly filed company accounts for Cupar-headquartered Fishers highlight the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the business.

Commenting in the firm’s annual report, group managing director Michael Jones said restrictions introduced “had and continue to have, a significant adverse impact”.

Perth laundry firm Fishers was among the first Perth and Kinross firms to announce job losses during lockdown.

He said: “Since mid-March, we have seen significantly reduced hotel occupancy rates compared to historical levels.

“Demand for both business and leisure travel has declined considerably on a global basis and, accordingly, hospitality volumes have slowed to historically low levels.

“Revenues during the peak of lockdown, from April to June 2020, fell approximately 90% compared to the same period last year.”

Attempts to save Perth operation

The move to close the Perth operation saw local politicians lobby the Scottish Government in a bid to save the stricken facility.

Fishers at Inveralmond Industrial Estate, Perth.

During the consultation period, the Fishers management team said they examined a range of options in an effort to avoid closure, including suggestions from staff.

Employees at the plant and drivers offered to job share and cut their hours if it meant saving their jobs.

The firm also approached the government to see if it could expand its existing social healthcare and care home business with the provision of reusable PPE gowns. This didn’t prove possible in the timescales required.

At the time Fishers said losing a key contract – with Premier Inn operators Whitbread – made the base unviable.

The Perth work was spread between its laundries in Cupar and Glasgow.

Government support

Mr Jones said there was some improvement in trade over the summer.

“Whilst our hospitality revenue significantly improved over the summer months in rural areas, revenue remained very low from customers in urban locations,” he said.

Fishers lorries at depot in Cupar.

“The full extent of the impact on the business will depend on future developments, including the duration, spread and severity of the outbreak and resulting demand for personal and business travel.”

The managing director said the company has developed and implemented measures to diminish the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

These include temporary restructuring through consolidating operations, reducing headcount and accessing UK Government assistance.

Rising turnover and profits before Covid hit

The accounts, which cover the year to December 31 2019, show an increase in revenues and profits.

Turnover rose from £34.5 million in 2018, to £39m.

Pre-tax profits jumped from £3.4m to £3.7m over the trading period – an increase of 9%.

A Fishers laundry lorry heads out to make a delivery

A spokesperson for Fishers said: “Although the increase in profits in 2019 was welcome, these results are of course historical.

“They do not reflect the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Fishers’ 2020 performance.”

Founded in Aberfeldy in 1900, the company was sold to Canadian giant K-Bro in a £35m deal in 2017.

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