A major employer in Bideford has reduced its staff’s working week to four days due to poor trading conditions.
Several employees at Devonshire Pine & Oak are now working Monday to Thursday and having Friday off as part of a new “temporary” working plan.
Staff members who work on the factory floor, in administration and in the distribution department, including HGV drivers, now work eight hours a day for four days a week.
The showroom in Caddsdown Industrial Park remains open seven days a week.
Andy Waddell, Commercial Director, said the changes were necessary following “the worst year of trading in 21 years of the business”.
He said: “Our Christmas period wasn’t as buoyant as we hoped it would be. Trading conditions have really affected us for the last six to seven months. We’ve been through the toughest year of trading in our 21 year history. We’re now trying to come out of it the other side and push forwards.
“There’s been a change in how people buy their furniture and certainly there’s a lot more competition nowadays.”
Mr Waddell said the new working week was designed to manage the decreasing workload without making staff redundant.
He said: “The level of work is lower. We don’t want to lay people off. We could make people redundant but in two weeks’ time the workload could go up and then we would’ve laid off some good workers.
“I don’t think anyone can be happy with this situation, when the price of bills and mortgages are rising and you lose some income, but I would say the staff understand.
“We are preserving jobs but we can only give out work where we have got it. If the work isn’t there, there’s nothing we can do about it.
“There has certainly been a downturn in furniture expenditure and that, alongside other issues the company has had to deal with, has led to this situation.
“The staff are the heart of the business. We have some staff who have been here since it started. The majority of employees have been here 10 years.
“We will do as much as we can to keep them employed. All our efforts are now going towards getting as much work as we can over the coming weeks.”