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300 Axminster workers laid off
Three-quarters of the workforce at historic carpets firm Axminster have been made redundant after the company entered administration.
The Devon-based company, which dates back 250 years, blamed a sharp increase in raw material prices and the UK's continuing economic difficulties for the decision to go into administration.
Restructuring firm Duff & Phelps, which has been appointed to run the firm, said it will continue the company's search for a buyer but said it had been necessary to make around 300 staff redundant.
It will keep just 100 staff after deciding to downscale the company's carpet manufacturing operations at Axminster and Buckfast. It will also end yarn production but two factory outlet stores will remain open.
The company, which warned last month that it would go into administration, is one of the world's largest makers of Axminster, Wilton and Tufted carpet.
It is one of Devon's biggest employers and its plight prompted more than 6,000 people to sign a petition calling for it to be saved. Carpet making in the Devon town dates back to 1755 but the present company was founded in 1937. The original Axminster carpet was laid in Brighton Pavilion as well as bought by King George III and Queen Charlotte. Axminster's products are now found in a number of Britain's stately homes.
Director Joshua Dutfield said: "Trading has been difficult and although it saddens the board to make the decision to enter administration it could not be avoided. The management have been working with key suppliers, creditors and lenders to resolve the company's financial difficulties and whilst the last few weeks have been stressful, the company managed to pay the wages yesterday.
"We are now committed to working with the administrators to assess all viable options for the future of the business and achieve the best possible outcome for all concerned and most importantly the staff."
The private equity firm Carlyle, which owns the Axminster carpet manufacturer Brintons, has been linked to a possible deal for the company.
Duff & Phelps administrator Benjamin Wiles said: "We recognise the importance of the business to the local community and will be seeking to work closely with management and all key stakeholders to restructure the business where possible, including the possibility of selling all or part of the business." The company will attempt to fulfil existing orders while its main suppliers have offered their continued support for the business.