Find out which companies are hiring and downsizing in Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 16:03 22 January 2019

Direct Line

Direct Line

Dan Lewis/VisMedia

Job figures for East Anglia are refreshingly buoyant - but with Brexit around the corner, the future looks uncertain.

Direct Line Group signage  Photo: VisMediaDirect Line Group signage Photo: VisMedia

That’s the message from Stephen Lankester, the district operations manager for East Anglia at Jobcentre Plus.

While the unemployment figures are currently difficult to decipher until the rollout of Universal Credit is completed - which won’t be for another three to four years, according to Mr Lankester - the employment rate for our region from September 2017 to 2018 was 77.1%, which is exactly the same as it was for the previous year.

“This is much higher than the national rate of 75.8%, and we expect that because we know the East Anglian economy is more buoyant than the rest of the UK,” he said.

One of the companies currently hiring in Ipswich is the insurance company Direct Line, which is looking to hire 50 people and is organising group sessions through Ipswich Job Centre to find the right candidates.

The WHSmith store and post office, Felixstowe. Picture: ArchantThe WHSmith store and post office, Felixstowe. Picture: Archant

WH Smith is also hiring six staff as part of measures they’ve taken to move post offices into their stores.

But the Suffolk jobs market has also had a number of setbacks in recent weeks, with Delphi Diesel Systems and Philips Avent both announcing they are closing down factories in the county next year.

Babergh District Council is also understood to be making five people redundant this week.

MP James Cartlidge tweeted the news last week that Challs, which makes the well known ‘Buster’ sink unblocker among other products in Hadleigh, will be contacting Philips Avent’s HR office as they have vacancies. “Got to focus on what positive steps we can take,” he added.

Philips Avent in Glemsford. Picture: Phil MorleyPhilips Avent in Glemsford. Picture: Phil Morley

Mr Lankester is hopeful that a lot of people losing their jobs will simply transfer from one company to another. “I’m hearing a lot of mood music on positive change,” he added. “In Norwich, we’ve just found out that House of Fraser will be staying in the city.”

And in Suffolk, around 100 jobs were saved yesterday in Sudbury when the distribution firm Prolog was rescued from collapse in a management buyout.

Mr Lankaster said that Brexit had not affected job figures yet, but thought that it would do if and when the UK pulls out of Europe.

“I think it will take some time for Brexit to have an effect,” he said. “We are looking at more and more vacancies that were taken by those people coming from Eastern Europe - field work, especially - and we have held think tanks on that issue.”

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