Haulage firm falls victim to'crunch'

A family-run haulage business in Norfolk has ceased trading after more than 20 years at a cost of 75 jobs.The doors have closed and redundancy notices have been issued to all of the staff at Woody's Haulage at Attleborough.

A family-run haulage business in Norfolk has ceased trading after more than 20 years at a cost of 75 jobs.

The doors have closed and redundancy notices have been issued to all of the staff at Woody's Haulage at Attleborough.

Last night, the directors of the business, which specialised in the haulage of building materials and aggregates for the construction industry, blamed “bad debts and a sudden downturn in orders” for the closure.

The closure of the firm follows job cuts and scaling-back of operations by most of Britain's major housebuilders - with Bovis closing its East Anglian head-quarters as part of cost-cutting.


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The £1m fleet of Woody's Haulage red trucks has been a familiar sight on the roads of East Anglia for two decades.

The business can trace its roots to 1904 when the grandfather of chief executive Roger Wickham hauled building materials by horse and cart.

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It is not clear whether the directors of Woody's plan to revive the business when the housing market and construction industry recovers in future.

In a statement, the directors said: “Directors of Woody's Haulage, based in Norfolk, have shut the doors of the company after more that 20 years in business.

“The directors said that they had considered all the options but that when it became clear that adequate funding was no longer available, they had no alternative but to issue redundancy notices to the 75 staff and close the business down,” said the statement.

“The directors blamed the demise of the business on bad debts and a sudden downturn in orders during the recent financial crisis.”

The company's last set of financial accounts show that Woody's made a profit before tax of £63,248 in the year to March 2007.

Turnover increased from £1.2m in 2006 to £1.5m last year.

But the March 2007 accounts also said: “The results have been significantly impaired by losses totalling approximately £134,000 in respect of bad debts and contract losses.

“The company has performed reasonably during the year and would expect improvements in liquidity and profitability for the coming year.

“Since the year end, the company has performed well, with management information to November 2007 indicating net profits of £100,000.”

Meanwhile a second Attleborough family firm has had to reduce its operation because of a downturn in demand for office furniture.

Lee and Plumpton, based at Bunn's Bank industrial estate, confirmed it would be making redundancies, although it was unclear as yet how many jobs would be shed.

Commercial director Ken Seaman said: “We are looking to make cuts. We find ourselves in that sad position at the moment that many people seem to be. It is very difficult to give precise numbers because we are in the mid-dle of consultations. We are clearly trying to keep it as low as possible.

“Basically, the furniture industry took a downturn in the summer and it has progressively become evident that things were not going to improve.”

Lee and Plumpton has been in the town for 34 years and currently has 192 employees. Mr Seaman said: “We are clearly not closing the doors and going anywhere. Having decided to resize the business will put us in a good position to weather the storm.”

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