Express & Star

Aspray Transport shuts down leaving 192 workers facing redundancy

Workers have spoken of their sadness as Aspray Transport closed in Willenhall, leaving 192 people facing redundancy.

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Many workers were leaving Aspray Transport for the last time on Friday

Lorry drivers, managers and office staff gathered for a sombre farewell toast at a bar opposite Aspray's headquarters in Noose Lane as the company shut down on Friday.

The bar forms part of the Sporting Khalsa FC complex whose football stadium is known as the Aspray Arena.

One staff member, who greeted fellow colleagues on the gravel car park outside, said: “We might not see each other again after so many years.”

A staff member leaving Aspray on Friday

Another worker said: “We are all disappointed that we have lost our jobs.”

Walsall Council has stepped in to support the 192 workers based in Willenhall, where Aspray has operated since 1982.

Aspray Transport, which has 449 staff across the UK, is a next-day delivery arm of the Aspray Group which also includes Aspray Logistics and Aspray International. Staff at the other divisions have not so far been affected by the closure.

Aspray Transport was family run for 38 years but was bought by the Bushell Investment Group in March and entered into a Company Voluntary Agreement in April in a bid to manage its debts and renegotiate with creditors.

However last week employees were given letters which said "attempts to find a solution have been to no avail" and that the firm would cease deliveries on August 15.

This letter was given to staff last week

Staff said they had suspected the firm would close for some months but they were taken aback by how quickly it happened.

One man said cost-cutting exercises and the takeover of the firm in March raised suspicions.

Another commented: “To be honest we all saw this coming. We got memos saying we ‘needed to give 110 per cent’.

“But we didn’t think it would come so soon.”

Aspray Transport was family-owned until being taken over in March

Lee Bushell, CEO of Aspray Group, said: “With a heavy heart, we have taken the difficult decision to wind down Aspray Transport.

"Regrettably, this will have a direct impact on the company’s workforce and members of staff will be made redundant as a result.”

One man told the Express & Star he had worked at the Willenhall base for 19 years. Workers said they had suspected the firm would close for some months but they were taken aback by how quickly it happened.

Walsall Council has said it is collaborating with the Department of Work and Pensions to offer support to those hit by the announcement.

Deputy council leader Adrian Andrew said: “This is devastating news for employees, their families and the community in Willenhall.”

A spokesman for the Aspray Group said: “Unfortunately, Aspray Transport has been experiencing trading difficulties for some time, due to a number of factors including rising fuel prices, adverse market conditions and the uncertainty linked to Brexit.”