16 workers lose jobs in Ballina
A LEADING Northern Rivers campertrailer business has sacked nearly a quarter of its staff after experiencing a strong downturn in the market.
On Friday Kimberley Kampers let go 16 of its 72 staff at its Ballina operations, but the remaining 56 workers include all the company's apprentices and trainees.
Managing director Bruce Loxton said the firm had kept on staff,on for three months longer than they should have in the hope business would pick up. The staff who were let go include one office and 11 operational workers, including four casuals.
"We have experienced downturn in orders since late 2016,” he said.
"The export market has maintained but the domestic market orders have reduced from late last year, (so) we kept staff on hoping this would rebound, but heading into Easter our volume dropped down.”
However, Mr Loxton said the size of the business meant they have to have an employee level to match.
He said it was important to retain those undergoing training.
"Our layoff policy is we maintain all our apprentices and trainees,” he said.
"We were holding onto staff with the hopeful thinking that we would be able to convert leads to sales at higher rate.”
Kimberley Kampers management also told the sacked staff they would happily give references for future employment opportunities and give rehiring priority to those who chose to work out their notice with the company, he said.
"Absolutely we will give people references,” Mr Loxton said.
Now the business is aiming to regain market share and hopes to rehire those let go when business picks up.
"We have a downturn at the moment but it will go up again,” he said.
"We have rehired people when they have left to try other jobs such as in the mines, when they have come back to us. On Friday we had a significant number of people come up and said they understood.”
Mr Loxton said the management team at Kimberley Kampers are genuinely convinced better business times are ahead.
"We have significantly invested in the marketing side and when I say we are quite optimistic, I really mean it,” he said.
In 2008, Kimberley Kampers won Business of the Year.