Joan McAlpine has welcomed news that Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse will meet Marks and Spencer bosses to discuss the threatened closure of Pinneys in Annan.
Mr Wheelhouse revealed details of the meeting in response to a question in parliament from Joan McAlpine, who says Marks and Spencer are obligated to the workforce in Annan, as they have been Pinney's only customer for several years.
Questioning the Minister in Parliament today, Ms McAlpine said:
“The Minister will be aware that Pinneys sole customer under Young's was Marks and Spencer, and had been for several years.
“I appreciate that the groceries regulation is a reserved matter and that exclusivity of supply is not prohibited in the grocer's code of conduct.
“But does the minister agree with me that while such an arrangement may seem beneficial when demand is high, it can have very negative effects when there are challenges?"
In his response, the Business Minister said:
“We do recognise that there are commercial considerations here, but I do identify with the point that Joan McAlpine has said in the respect that where we have a plant being dedicated effectively to one client then clearly if any work is lost from that client it means that plant is particularly vulnerable.
“We are looking to engage with M&S in this particular scenario and seeking to meet with M&S senior management team this week.
“We have had some initial conversations with M&S but I want to speak to them on the specific issue about single company sites and I agree with Joan McAlpine that this situation is starkly illustrated in this case.
“The risks associated with having a single client site is obviously horribly exposed in the context of what has happened at Annan.”
Ms McAlpine raised the issue of contract exclusivity with the retail giant in a letter last week, and was assured by their chief executive Steve Rowe that Marks would engage with the action group set up try to save jobs.
Ms McAlpine is scheduled to speak with Young’s boss Bill Showalter today (Wednesday).