Sudbury's economy linked to Delphi's fortunes

THE financial perils of an engineering firm could put the entire economy of a Suffolk market town at risk, it was claimed last night.

Laurence Cawley

THE financial perils of an engineering firm could put the entire economy of a Suffolk market town at risk, it was claimed last night.

Sudbury-based Delphi employs about 800 people in the town and surrounding areas and last week warned it was asking for the Government for help during the economic downturn.

Managers at the factory, which makes diesel filters and injectors for trucks, have already laid of more than 100 hourly-paid agency workers and is currently running sabbatical programmes and a cut in production days to stave off the need to shed jobs.

But the firm's decision to call on the Government for help has triggered concerns about the wider implications of the company's current struggle.

Sudbury mayor John Sayers said it was not only the Delphi workers themselves who might be at risk but all the other smaller companies in the area which supply Delphi.

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He said Sudbury was experiencing a “very bad patch” with news of Delphi's difficulties coming hot on the heels of the loss of Woolworths and Marks and Spencer in the town.

“Delphi is one of the biggest contributors to our local economy,” said Mr Sayers. “If things were to turn worse, that would have serious implications for the town, and for Sudbury Town Council as well as we are tied in with the Delphi social club and we run their staff lottery.

“It is amazing the number of local firms who depend on Delphi. It would have serious repercussions. It would affect everyone.”

Speaking to the EADT last week, Delphi's human resources manager Steve Coppock said: “Our workforce has stuck with us and we have all taken some pain in keeping this together and not having any redundancies.

“We are really saying what else can we do?

“It is unlikely it's going to recover in the short to medium term,” he said. “In the first quarter of this year, all our customers are de-stocking. That's had an added depression because they are not buying.”

Bosses at the firm last week met with South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo who pledged to approach Lord Mandelson's office, the Department for Business and Regulatory Reform (BERR).

“There's a very powerful case to be made for this company. It is the biggest employer in the district,” Mr Yeo said.