'Laid-off' Kettering shoemakers given jobs back thanks to government furlough scheme

Loake workers had been told there were going to be redundancies
Loake workers have been given a lifelineLoake workers have been given a lifeline
Loake workers have been given a lifeline

Shoemakers at Kettering's historic Loake shoes have been given a lifeline after the government stepped-in to protect workers during the coronavirus outbreak.

On Thursday, March 19, workers at the Wood Street headquarters were called into a meeting to inform them that a redundancy consultation was under way. They were told that they would be working a short week,finishing on Thursday lunchtimes and there would be redundancies in all departments because of the expected downturn in trade caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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Many, some of whom had spent the majority of their working lives at the firm, were left in tears at the news.

But just one day later, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced an extraordinary series of measures that would allow companies affected by the outbreak to furlough their workers and have up to 80 per cent of their wages paid by the Government.

In light of this, the owners reconsidered, and decided to keep the staff on for now.

In a statement to the Northants Telegraph, a spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that no redundancies have been made following the government’s job retention scheme announcement on Friday, March 20. Our factory staff and majority of our workforce are now furloughed."

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Staff at the factory are now believed to have started a 12-week shutdown.

The company, founded in Kettering in 1880, hand-makes top-end leather shoes and has held a royal warrant since 2007.

The firm has been in its 20,000 sq ft Wood Street home since 1884 and, during WWII, produced more than 2,500 pairs of boots every week for the Royal Navy and Air Force.