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More jobs axed as crunch bites three businesses a week

PUBLISHED: 12:15 15 January 2009 | UPDATED: 10:23 23 August 2010

SCORES more north Kent workers face redundancies with three more businesses this week suffering from the economic downturn. North Kent-based Southeastern trains and Bovis Homes announced job cuts and Land of Leather suspended trading on the Stock Exchang

SCORES more north Kent workers face redundancies with three more businesses this week suffering from the economic downturn.

North Kent-based Southeastern trains and Bovis Homes announced job cuts and Land of Leather suspended trading on the Stock Exchange as it called in administrators.

Mario Cientanni, a member of the Dartford and Gravesham Chamber of Commerce, expects more businesses to axe staff as they battle to survive.

He said: "It's worrying times. The biggest worry is not profits, but lack of cash.

"It is understandable that banks need to balance their books but in doing this and not lending they are stifling investment and spending on a business and consumer level. It is very tough.

"In the previous recession there was access to capital. This is not the case in this recession and people will lose jobs as companies battle for survival. I am sure it will be deeper and last longer due to the lack of capital.

"It's OK the government saying it will lay down half a billion pounds worth of capital projects but if the business can't get money to start these it's a real concern."

Southeastern trains has announced plans to make 300 people redundant this year, blaming "reduced passenger journey growth" and the economic climate for the cuts.

Bovis Homes, based in New Ash Green, also confirmed further redundancies in its workforce, with staff numbers cut by 40 per cent.

On Monday retailer Land of Leather, with a head office on Northfleet Industrial Estate, revealed it has asked the Stock Exchange to suspend its shares with immediate effect as it reviews finances.

Southeastern employs around 4,000 staff and says many of its workers would leave the company through natural turnover and a recruitment freeze when employees retire or leave their jobs, with 90 redundancies expected imminently.

Bosses at Bovis said the market for selling homes was the "worst that the group has seen for years."

Mr Cientanni added: "If you look the statistics it is no worse than last time but I expect it could get worse than the 1990s.

"It is no surprise companies like Bovis Homes and Land of Leather are struggling and they are doing what any business would to survive.

"Businesses, big or small need to retain as much cash as possible with an accent on selling. Those businesses that are least efficient will fall. More redundancies at more household names will follow there is no doubt. This is no surprise given the nature of this recession, starting in the property market and spreading to the consumer market.

"MFI has gone in Dartford. With less consumer spending and massive overheads and by operating in a highly competitive market, others will struggle and it will be those who can adapt and be the strongest weathering this period that will survive."

Mr Cientanni, who has been involved with the Chamber of Commerce for 18 years, is a chartered accountant at Barnes Roffe LLP, Copperfields, Spital Street, Dartford.

michael.adkins@archant.co.uk

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