Huge job losses as Kent firm moves overseas

The company's headquarters in Hythe. Picture: CHRIS DAVEY
The company's headquarters in Hythe. Picture: CHRIS DAVEY

HUNDREDS of people will lose their jobs when a Kent company relocates to Mexico, it has been announced.

Smiths Medical, the aerospace-to-medical equipment maker, held a press conference to tell staff of plans to cut 534 manufacturing jobs from its factory in Boundary Road, Hythe.

The firm, previously called Portex, has been making specialist medical devices in the town since 1954. It is likely to stop operating by the end of 2007.

Managing director Martin Jamieson said: "This move is driven by the global competitive environment of our business and our competitors have all made similar moves to low-cost countries, which make the announcement unavoidable.

"We are sorry this will affect many of our employees and their families."

The company will keep its headquarters in Military Road, Hythe, where it employs 220 people in jobs, including research and development and finance and marketing.

During the past two months two US manufacturing plants have also closed.

Communications director Chris Fox said: "We have tried to give people lots of warning. We hope this will give the people and the area time to adjust and hopefully find other jobs.

"We will be working closely with them to help in any way we can to find them new employment."

A consultation process will now begin with employees.

Member of Hythe Chamber of Commerce and town councillor Keren Belcourt, said: "This is a real blow for Hythe and is devastating for the many families who have worked there for so many years."

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