Closure of two James Finlay flower farms signals job cuts for 1,700 workers

James Finlay flowers EAC
Flowers awaiting shipment. PHOTOS/COURTESY

Multinational flower company James Finlay is set to close its two Kericho County farms, Chemirei and Tarakwet, by December 25, 2019, in a move that spells lay-offs for 1700 employees working at the farms.

In April last year, James Finlay’s General Manager Stephen Scott had revealed that the company would close the aforementioned farms in December 2020 but the company made the announcement on Monday in a communiqué to staff. James Finlay has attributed the move to an overflow of flowers in the European markets which has affected demand. The weakening of the shilling globally has similarly affected the company’s flower business.

“The flower industry has been facing severe challenges in the last 18 months due to an oversupply in the European Market. As a result of this and other challenges, extreme weather conditions and high labour costs, the directors of James Finlay have made the decision to close the Chemirei and Tarakwet farms earlier than initially communicated,” says the communiqué signed by James Finlay’s General Manager Stephen Scott.

“Employees seconded to Murara plants limited shall also be affected by this change…junior and senior management who are leaving the business will be communicated to on a one to one basis.”

The move by James Finlay mirrors that of other corporates such as Telkom Kenya and Stanbic Bank who have in recent times laid off employees in an effort to counter increased operation costs and reduced business.

In August this year, Telkom Kenya announced that it would reduce its current workforce by 72 per for its planned merger with Airtel Kenya. This translates to the telco offloading approximately 575 employees from its workforce that currently stands at 800 employees.

At the end of August, lender Stanbic Bank laid off 30 employees as part of its voluntary early retirement scheme that seeks to cut down operational costs for the financier. The 30 individuals were part of 88 staff that were set to exit the bank by the end of September after applying for the voluntary early retirement scheme.

“The programme is finished and the response was actually more overwhelming than we expected…We had 135 applications and we only accepted 88. The first group is actually going today (August 30, 2019) and the second is leaving in September. We are staggering the process to avoid disruptions,” Stanbic Bank Chief Executive Officer Charles Mudiwa said then.

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