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Flambards staff are reinstated - but numbers will ultimately halve: UPDATE
4:20pm Thursday 12th December 2013 in News
UPDATE: It has been confirmed this lunchtime that all staff who were laid off last month from Flambards near Helston have returned to their jobs.
New owner Ian Cunningham has reinstated the work force and is at the park this week getting to know the team.
However, staff have been told that the number of positions will reduce by about 20 to 25, effectively halving the workforce.
This is likely to take place in the New Year, following a consultation process with the staff.
The new owner of Flambards has said he has “no immediate plans” to make any changes at the Helston theme park.
After months of speculation, the attraction has been sold for an undisclosed sum to Livingstone Leisure Ltd, which is run by the founder of Newquay’s Blue Reef Aquarium.
Ian Cunningham, who is also a former operations director of the Eden Project, near St Austell, said on Monday: “We’re delighted to be able to officially announce the acquisition of Flambards.
“Great leisure opportunities are hard to find and so we’re very excited to have been able to acquire such a fantastic park with so much opportunity.
“Our aim is to develop the park and museums and to invest in the good work of the past few years.”
He confirmed, in an email to the Packet, that his company had “no immediate plans to change any of the existing facilities.”
Flambards has now been closed for the winter in order to fully refurbish the attractions and will be re-opened in time for Easter. However, the One2Eleven indoor play centre will remain open all year.
Flambards is understood to have been under administration at the time of the sale.
Nineteen members of staff were laid off last month, having been told the sale was taking “longer than hoped,” with a further nine people working on reduced hours and 17 working flexible hours.
Earlier in November, the company strongly dismissed rumours that it was facing financial difficulties, having been put up for sale at the beginning of May.
Mr Cunningham said he understood the role Flambards played in the local economy, adding that it was “too early to comment” on the employment prospects of staff who had been laid off or placed on short time contacts by the former owners. He revealed that he aimed to carry out a “full review of requirements going forward” very shortly.
Prior to setting up Livingstone Leisure with business partner Michael Enright in 2010, Mr Cunningham was the UK managing director of Spanish-based parks company Aspro Ocio. He also co-founded Blue Reef Leisure Ltd, which owned and operated four aquariums in the UK including Newquay. His company also provides management contracts to existing owners and consultancy services to the visitor attraction industry.
Mr Cunningham said: “Flambards is the second attraction in what we plan will be a series of new acquisitions over the coming years. We are currently in negotiations with a number of other leisure-based businesses.”
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