Sheffield MP intervenes in bid to save 50 Bifrangi jobs from axe

Grim outlook: Paul Chilton, general manager at Bifrangi UK's Sheffield factory, appealed for help from MP Clive Betts, inset.'                         'PICTURE: STUART HASTINGS.
Grim outlook: Paul Chilton, general manager at Bifrangi UK's Sheffield factory, appealed for help from MP Clive Betts, inset.' 'PICTURE: STUART HASTINGS.

CITY MP Clive Betts has demanded answers from a multi-national business which has pulled orders from one of Sheffield’s oldest manufacturing firms - forcing it to shed half its workers.

Bifrangi - formerly Ambrose Shardlow’s - based on Grange Mill Lane on the Sheffield/Rotherham border, is planning 50 redundancies after major customer Cummins cancelled most of a £13 million order for crank shafts.

Mr Betts, who represents many of the threatened workers in his Sheffield South East constituency, is now to meet senior Cummins bosses in a bid to make them reconsider.

Paul Chilton, general manager of Bifrangi’s Sheffield factory, asked Mr Betts to intervene after Cummins gave the order to firms in India and Germany.

In a letter to Cummins vice president Iain Barrowman, Mr Betts wrote: “Cummins have been a major customer of Bifrangi for many years and have had an extremely close working relationship.

“That relationship has worked on the basis not of a formal contract but of an understanding that the two companies were working in partnership.

“Being told your company has entered into contractual arrangements with two other suppliers, and now cannot see any possibility of further orders until the end of 2013, has come as a major shock.

“It looks as though the suspension of your orders will effectively make the Sheffield plant non-viable.

“If you have concerns, cannot you at least sit down with them and see if they are not capable of resolution?”

Mr Barrowman told The Star he had offered to meet Mr Betts next Friday, ‘to set out the commercial reasons for the decisions that we have had to take regarding Bifrangi’.