Horticulture Research International has announced redundancies at three of its five sites. Around 100 staff will lose their jobs at Wellesbourne, Kirton and Efford, although total job losses, including resignations, is expected to reach around 124.

A question mark still hangs over the fate of staff at HRI’s East Malling and Wye research stations where they are awaiting the outcome of negotiations between the East Malling Trust for Horticulture Research and DEFRA. But Professor Michael Wilson, HRI chief executive, said there could be a further 70 job losses across the two sites.

Food and farming minister
Lord Whitty announced earlier this year that the R&D work by HRI Wellesbourne and HRI Kirton would be preserved through a merger with the University of Warwick, but the Efford site will close. The closures are a direct result of recommendations made by the quinquennial review of HRI.

Wilson said: “It is a very sombre time, morale is pretty much at rock bottom.

“We’ve taken on responsibility for the process to create what we believe will be the most viable unit for the future and we’ll hand that over on April 1 next year to Warwick and EMTHR. Then I, and most of my executive team, will be made redundant.”

Wilson said the organisation would be providing a range of support services to all staff who are facing redundancy.

“Once this nasty patch is over the future for horticultural research is tremendously exciting,” he added.

“This difficult process heralds the start of a new future, which now looks more secure and much brighter for a stable organisation focused on serving the UK’s horticulture industry.”
Ed Bedington