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Hundreds of jobs at risk at Yeovil aerospace firm GKN after loss of business

230 employees were sent home from GKN's Yeovil site this morning. Credit: PA Images

The future of a branch of a major engineering company in Somerset is in doubt after dozens of employees were sent home this morning.

All 230 workers at GKN in Yeovil were sent home after the company was informed it was no longer needed to build Royal Navy helicopter parts for another Yeovil-based company Leonardo.

The company has said the loss of business could lead to the closure of its Yeovil site as the company was 'no longer a sustainable business'. A spokesman said:

We have been informed by Leonardo Helicopters that due to changes in their demand for helicopters, they will relocate all future AW159 Wild Cat assembly and detail work away from the GKN facility on the Leonardo Yeovil site to one of their own facilities.

Leonardo’s decision to take this work in-house means an immediate end to any future AW159 Wild Cat orders being placed with GKN Yeovil.

The removal of a significant part of GKN Yeovil’s business puts at risk the long term viability of our Yeovil site, which is situated inside the Leonardo Helicopter campus. Having completed a thorough assessment of the business, including our on-going order book, capabilities and cost base, we have regrettably concluded that GKN Yeovil, as it stands today, is no longer a sustainable business and will have to be significantly downsized or fully closed.

We will now enter a period of consultation with nominated employee representatives.

– GKN spokesperson
The company says the site in Yeovil is 'no longer a sustainable business'. Credit: PA Images

Yeovil MP Marcus Fysh says he will do everything in his power to help the workers.

Over 55,000 people work in GKN companies in more than 30 countries around the world.

The company supplies wings, fuselages and engines for aircraft and had been building airframes for the Wild Cat helicopters - a project that made up the vast majority of its business.

The company has now begun formal consultations with the unions.

GKN has been building airframes for Wild Cat helicopters Credit: PA

The Unite union has issued a statement in response to the news

This is a massive blow for the workforce and their families. These are highly skilled jobs which the West Country can ill-afford to lose. Unite will be meeting the management next week to explore in-depth the reasons for this announcement and how any job losses can be ameliorated.

We will be doing our utmost to keep these manufacturing jobs here in Somerset and the site operating as a viable enterprise. The union will be giving our members all possible support during this very difficult time for them.

– Unite regional officer, Heathcliffe Pettifer