Jobs increase forecast for first quarter

• Employers expect a modest growth in jobs in the first quarter of 2000, a
survey by staffing company Manpower shows. Nineteen per cent of firms surveyed
forecast jobs would be created in the first three months of this year, compared
with 16 per cent in the first quarter of 1999. Fourteen per cent anticipate job
losses, against 16 per cent last year, giving a positive balance of plus five
against zero a year ago. The public sector, with a positive balance of +6, and
manufacturing, which scored +8, were improved the most. Employers in
electronics and telecoms were twice as confident as last year and one in three
firms predict they will offer new jobs. The East Midlands and the South were
the top regions. Reuters

Restructuring helped bring a merry Christmas

• Ailing retail group Storehouse says its major restructuring programme is
bringing rewards with sales up at its Bhs and Mothercare stores during the
Christmas trading period. The group announced plans in November to separate the
Mothercare and Bhs chains into two different businesses in an attempt to boost
profits and sales. The move appears to have started to pay off – with a trading
statement released last week showing total sales at its Mothercare stores
rising by 5.3 per cent during the 12 weeks to January 1 compared with a 0.1 per
cent fall a year ago. PA News

UK’s high employment at the cost of productivity

• The UK has achieved higher employment than most of its European peers but
at the cost of lower productivity, research suggests. Britain has one of the
best employment rates for adults in Europe, with nine out of 12 British regions
ranked in the top half of EU league tables produced by analyst Business
Strategies. But every region except London is in the bottom half of the
report’s productivity tables. This fares poorly with some regions on the
Continent which achieved high employment and productivity. PA News

Tyre-maker on the road to redundancies

• French tyre-maker Michelin is to cut 473 jobs at its plant in
Stoke-on-Trent. Compulsory redundancies are likely and half the jobs will go by
the spring, the company said. The plant employs 2,700 people, making car tyres
and tyre components as well as remoulding truck tyres. The job cuts will
primarily affect the car tyre and tyre component production workshops. The
Stoke-on-Trent site is Michelin’s oldest manufacturing site in Britain. The
company says the job cuts are necessary to ensure its long-term future.

Pressure on prices brings factory closures

• Dewhirst Group, which supplies clothes and toiletries to Britain’s biggest
clothing retailer Marks & Spencer, said last week it will shut two
factories and lay off 1,000 staff. It said pressure on prices has forced the
factory shutdowns, which were part of a policy started in 1990 of moving
production to cheaper foreign plants. The company is shutting its blouse
factory at Winford, Cheshire, which employs 150 people and its men’s jacket and
trousers factory in Peterlee, County Durham, which employs 850 people. The
plants will shut within 90 days. Reuters

By John Robinson

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