Struggle over for Shelforce?

shelforceA double glazing maker owned by Birmingham City Council has returned to an even keel after years of struggle, it has emerged.

,Erdington based Shelforce, which specialised in providing employment for disabled workers, has shed 40 jobs in the last 12 months, 11 of them compulsory redundancies, and reduced the size of its production unit in a bid to stay afloat.

,It boomed during the last decade when the council was refitting its 65,000 houses with double glazing under the £100 million Decent Homes Programme – but struggled to win new orders, throwing its future into doubt.

,Now the City Council is to transfer Shelforce into the arms of its wholly owned company, Acivico, where it will become part of the firm’s design and construction wing.

,A report to the council’s cabinet meeting next week recommends the transfer is approved.

,The report states that, after several difficult years, including a £1.8 million deficit last year, the company is now moving towards its break-even target.

,But it has come at a cost, with the workforce cut from 63 to 23 – of which only 13 have taken alternative roles within the city council. Three have retired.

,Bosses have reported a 375% increase in efficiency after upgrading the manufacturing techniques.

,Councillor Tahir Ali, Cabinet Member for Development, Transport and the Economy said: “The Shelforce workforce has dramatically improved its productivity and efficiency since the redesign and is now being managed in a commercially-focused way.

,”There is a real drive to meet customer requirements, with much better quality control, improved delivery scheduling and better communication.

,”I’m really pleased to say the workforce is pulling together as a team, they are far more confident about themselves and the future of the company and there is a real culture change. I wish them all well for the future and hope to see Shelforce become a really successful social enterprise.”

,Acivico, set up two years ago, is the council’s wholly owned company and is able to trade commercially in a way which council departments are not. Authority bosses hope the firm will return a profit to the council.


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