AROUND 15 jobs are under threat in Helensburgh after Arnold Clark confirmed it is proposing to shut its Volkswagen dealership in the town.

Multiple sources told the Advertiser the motor sales giant might not be re-opening the East Clyde Street branch after lockdown and all staff members are at risk of redundancy.

The company confirmed that a period of consultation has begun with employees and a decision on whether to shut up shop for good will be made over the coming weeks.

Earlier this month bosses at an Arnold Clark Vauxhall dealership in Greenock confirmed they intend to close the Port Glasgow Road branch and they have launched a similar consultation process with around 20 staff.

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Eddie Hawthorne, chief executive group managing director, said the business had been hit hard by a sharp downturn in sales resulting from the coronavirus lockdown.

A company spokesperson told the Advertiser: “Like all businesses, Arnold Clark has been impacted by the effects of Covid-19 and we will take time to assess our business and restructure where appropriate.

“I can confirm that there is a proposal in place for our Volkswagen dealership in Helensburgh not to re-open, however we are currently in a period of consultation with our employees there which will look to assess the viability of re-opening.

“Our goal is, as always, to support our employees as best as we can through this period.

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“Ultimately, our employees are the heart of our business, and they’re the reason we’re able to offer the high standard of customer care that we do.

“We’re working hard to ensure as few employees as possible are affected as a result of this crisis.”

Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O’Hara said he had written to Arnold Clark asking for more clarification on their plans for the Helensburgh dealership.

Mr O’Hara said: “This is a very worrying time for everyone, and I know businesses are bearing the brunt of the current economic situation as well, but we must do all we can to safeguard jobs during this pandemic.

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“I have asked the chief executive and managing director of Arnold Clark to provide me with clarification on the situation and an assurance that should the dealership close, employees will be treated fairly and that the company will look to redeploy staff to other nearby dealerships.”

West of Scotland Conservative MSP Maurice Corry, who lives in Helensburgh, said if the move goes ahead it would be a “real blow to the local economy”.

He added: “Remaining silent and allowing rumours to circulate among employees is not a healthy situation to put anyone in so I would call on Arnold Clark to clarify the situation as soon as possible.

“Employees who have been furloughed are already extremely worried at this time and all must be done to support them going forward.

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“Arnold Clark must continue to explore all avenues as to how this dealership can remain open in order to protect local jobs and I’ll be seeking to urgently contact them to offer assistance.”

Helensburgh’s MSP Jackie Baillie said: “I understand that this is an incredibly uncertain time for businesses and many companies are being forced to make difficult decisions about the future of their operations.

“That said, I hope that Arnold Clark will keep employees fully informed and make every effort to find them alternative employment.

“This situation highlights the need for a long-term strategy which supports business in Scotland. We are only just beginning to understand the extent of the economic crisis that Covid-19 has caused.

"It will be workers who will be bearing the brunt of this crisis for months and years to come.”

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