Unite to meet with PRH over Rugby site closure

Unite to meet with PRH over Rugby site closure

Unite is set to meet with Penguin Random House (PRH) next week to review “any options” to keep the Rugby warehouse site open, as well as “redeployment” opportunities for members.

The closure of PRH's UK distribution centre, earmarked for 2019, risks 255 jobs the company said on Friday.

The closure comes amid declining sales of physical books coupled with consolidation of services, resulting in an "over capacity” between the company’s three distribution sites. PRH has proposed to reduce its number of distribution centres from three to two with The Book Service (TBS) in Frating and Grantham Book Service (GBS) in Grantham taking over distribution of Penguin and DK titles if proposals go ahead.

Unite the union represents 100 of the 255 distribution staff affected by the job consultations.

Unite regional officer Peter Coulson said: “The revolution in reading habits, with e-books becoming more popular, has put these 255 jobs at risk. It is a worrying time for the employees and their families, especially in the run-up to Christmas, and is a real blow to the local economy.

“We are due to meet the management on Tuesday 15th December to discuss the business case for closure and whether there are any options available to keep the Rugby site open.

“We will also be exploring all avenues to assist our members, including the possibility of redeployment and the company’s offer for training and support for those seeking new jobs.”

PRH  c.e.o Tom Weldon has said the decision was "difficult" but for PRH to "align our service to market requirements”.

He said: “Proposing to part company with colleagues is never easy. Making this proposal has been a difficult but thoroughly considered and necessary action which we believe will enable us to align our service to market requirements and continue to deliver the excellent distribution service for which we are known.”

He added: “This proposal is in no way a reflection of the contributions of all at Rugby, who have provided an excellent service to Penguin, DK and Pearson both since the Rugby site opened, and prior to that at Magna Park.”

PRH has said it is "committed to providing good outplacement support and every help we can to secure new jobs for people should the proposal be confirmed”. Consultation, which involves multiple group and individual meetings, will take approximately four months.