Shipping firm to sail out of dock
QUESTION marks hang over the future of 100 Ipswich jobs today after it was confirmed a leading shipping firm is to leave Ipswich.Despite denials from officials at Contship, which operates from the landmark Waterfront House offices in Ipswich docks, Ipswich Borough Council chief executive James Hehir today confirmed the news that the company would cease to operate from its Ipswich base.
QUESTION marks hang over the future of 100 Ipswich jobs today after it was confirmed a leading shipping firm is to leave Ipswich.
Despite denials from officials at Contship, which operates from the landmark Waterfront House offices in Ipswich docks, Ipswich Borough Council chief executive James Hehir today confirmed the news that the company would cease to operate from its Ipswich base.
Mr Hehir said: "It's very disappointing that CP Ships has made this decision but it's obviously the decision of a multi-national company.
"We hope that the buoyancy of the shipping industry in Ipswich will mean that the employees of the company will be able to find new jobs in the Ipswich area. Obviously the council will be helping in every way we can. We hope another company will soon be able to fill the vacated property, which is a major of the Ipswich Waterfront."
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Staff at CP Ships were today remaining tight-lipped about their future. However, The Evening Star understands that many are already looking for alternative employment because of the uncertainty.
It is thought a deal has already been struck to transfer operations to the company's base in East Grinstead, Sussex, although it is not known how many jobs will go as many workers may be relocated.
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Ian Matheson, a company spokesman, today confirmed that discussions were currently underway to consolidate their three UK offices but denied a decision had already been made.
He said: "We will be consolidating our UK operations and the staff at Ipswich have been advised of that but no decision has been made about the future of the Ipswich office.
"Consolidation does not necessarily mean that there will be staff redundancies. It's a case of reducing the number of offices and so there may be redundant offices."
Rumours of job losses at Contship, which is part of CP Ships, have been circulating within the port and shipping community in Ipswich for some months, but until now they have been dismissed by the company as speculation.
The news comes as another hammer-blow to Suffolk industry in the wake of job cuts at Ipswich-based Agilent Technologies, TXU and Girdlestone Pumps, in Woodbridge.
Although the group's back-up office operation within the Felaw Maltings complex in Ipswich is not affected, the announcement spells uncertainty for the 100 or so staff at Waterfront House, formerly known as Contship House and prominently located near the Old Customs House.
According to some reports which provide bulletins to subscribers in the shipping world, Contship is also planning to move a number of functions from Ipswich to a centralised unit in Tampa, Florida, USA, but CP
Ships declined to comment yesterday.
Contship has had offices in Ipswich since 1982 – five years after it first established a UK presence at Felixstowe – when it took space within the Crown House complex in Crown Street. It has two other UK-based operations based in the East Grinstead area of Sussex.
In 1985 it acquired the former Home and Chapmans warehouses fronting the Wet Dock at Wherry Quay, and its conversion of these into offices – completed in 1987 – created one of the most eye-catching buildings on the Ipswich Waterfront.
Should Contship depart, the gathering pace of regeneration within the Wet Dock area, including both residential and commercial development, means a there is a likelihood of strong demand for the building.