Job losses at Wisbech firm that was forced to call in administrators

RJ Herbert Engineering has been placed into administration. Pictured from Herbert Engineering are Jo

RJ Herbert Engineering has been placed into administration. Pictured from Herbert Engineering are Jo Herbert and Richard Newman at LAMMA 2016 at the East of England Showground earlier this year. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

A potato and vegetable-processing equipment manufacturer has made 84 redundancies after going into administration.

The RJ Herbert Group in Wisbech was forced to call in administrators due to difficult market conditions within the agriculture sector.

A further 32 staff will be transferred to Herbert Systems, an associated business but which is not part of the administration, with 14 staff being retained while RJ Herbert Engineering is “wound down”.

Job losses were confirmed after administrators were unable to find a buyer for the manufacturing arm of the group.

Deloitte joint administrator and financial advisory partner, Chris Farrington said: “We would still prefer to sell the manufacturing facility as one unit if a buyer could be found quickly, which could potentially resurrect the business.”

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Mr Farrington initially expected to trade RJ Herbert Engineering for a short period, but he said that trading any business during administration could not be done indefinitely due to the costs involved, and therefore job losses had become inevitable.

An overseas buyer has been found for Herbert Systems, which provides checkpoint security and hold baggage solutions for airports.

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RJ Herbert Engineering provides handling equipment to farmers and growers, fresh packers and processors.

At the time administrators were appointed it employed 124 staff at its manufacturing plant and headquarters in Wisbech.

The privately owned business was established in 1972 after founder Rod Herbert built a multi-grader to separate clods from potatoes more efficiently.

The company was in a recent top 100 list of high performers.

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