Remploy factory saved from closure

Posted on 18 Jan 2013 by The Manufacturer

A Remploy factory in Bolton has been saved from closure by a new social enterprise scheme.

The Remploy factory in Bolton, which manufactured PCB assemblies, is once again operational.

Along with 35 other Remploy factories, which provided employment for disabled workers all over the UK, the Bolton plant closed in 2012 causing 48 redundancies.

Its salvation has come thanks to Oliver Randell, a Manchester entrepreneur who has established the new social enterprise scheme, Ability Tec, to run the business.

Ability Tec has vowed to uphold the principles of the Remploy in remaining dedicated to the employment of disabled workers. The organisation says that disabled workers will account for at least 75% of staff.

With the help of Carl Lawton, former Remploy factory manager and now Ability Tec operations director, the business has been streamlined and overheads reduced.

Ability Tec aims to reinstate 30 manufacturing jobs lost following the Remploy closure within three next three years.

Mr Randell was spurred into action by the Manchester Chambers of Commerce who asked him to consider whether a viable business model could be established to keep the factory operational.

Funding to establish a social enterprise was approved and the 148 square metre site restarted small scale manufacturing in December 2012 to fulfill outstanding Remploy orders.

Initial scoping of the project to save the factory had to be executed ‘under cover’ recalls Mr Randell, who told the BBC that he had to pose as a tax inspector when visiting the site, still operational at the time, for fear of raising staff hopes without cause.