40 jobs at risk as Signet Armorlite focuses on closure of Gloucester base

Up to 40 staff at specialist lens-maker Signet Armorlite are about to enter consultation as plans are made to close its Gloucester site.

By Andrew Merrell  |  Published
'Consumer trends', including a falling 'high street footfall' have focused the minds at Signet Armorlite owner Ellisor.
'Consumer trends', including a falling 'high street footfall' have focused the minds at Signet Armorlite owner Ellisor.

One of the businesses that has helped bring into focus world-wide Gloucester’s abilities as a specialist maker of spectacle lenses has announced plans to close its operations in the city.

Signet Armorlite, which produces lenses under the world-famous Kodak brand since 1993, has confirmed it plans to close it Quedgeley base, a move which also threatens jobs.

Owned by French-based international ophthalmic optics company Essilor since 2010, Signet Armorlite is a well-established specialist in its field – along with fellow Gloucester firm Norville.

According to the business ‘market conditions’ have forced it to ‘review the viability of our sites in the UK and, where possible, eliminate any duplication of services’.

‘Therefore, we find ourselves in the unfortunate position of considering to close the Quedgeley site in Gloucester and with it around 40 positions are at risk of redundancy,’ said a statement from the business.

Brian Deegan, managing director EMN UK Ltd (Essilor Group), which has a UK base at Thornbury in Bristol, said: ‘We will be offering full and ongoing support to all impacted staff throughout the consultation process, including applications for available positions at other sites within the wider group.

‘This is set against a backdrop of an already challenged market, as consumer trends have seen high street footfall decline in favour of online shopping. Independent opticians have not been immune to this.

‘It is a regrettable decision, but it was one that as a company we had no alternative to make if we are to continue to be commercially viable.’

Last year Norville Group, which has been making lenses in Gloucester for 150 years, was rescued from administration in a £2.4 million deal.

Essilor UK’s last filed accounts show a loss for the financial year of £237,000 – down from a profit of £4,517,000 the previous year (2018).

Turnover for 2019 was also down – from £70.2m to £58 million.

By Andrew Merrell

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