By David tucker

Published 08/10/2016 | 00:00

IT'S business as usual at Celtic Linen.

While no one at Celtic would like to be where the company is now, examinership is probably the least worst option for a business fighting to succeed. A business with its roots deeply embedded in Wexford town and to which so many local people are reliant for their livelihoods.

Chief executive Donald Campbell is upbeat about the future of Celtic, with 100 days of examinership allowing it breathing space to re-finance, time to find new investors.

'There's new investment needed, particularly in the important areas of the healthcare factory and the hospitality factory,' said Mr Campbell in an interview with this newspaper.

He said that talks were currently taking place with potential investors and he was confident that when they studied the new business plan they would come on board, although he declined comment on how much money Celtic needs to modernise its plant and equipment.

Mr Campbell said no jobs were under threat during the period of Examinership and staff had been fully briefed on the situation facing Celtic and its workers.

He said Celtic Linen had a very supportive staff, customer base and suppliers, all of whom backed the plan to chart a new way forward for the business, one of the mainstays of the local economy.

And he said there was 'value attached' to the company's long-serving and loyal staff, customer base and significant market share in its talks with investors.

'We're hopeful of a positive outcome,' said Mr Campbell.

Asked whether the banks had been knocking on Celtic's door, Mr Campbell said they had been very supportive and viewed the decision for it to go into Examinership as a positive development. This had been particularly the case with the man creditor, AIB.

Mr Campbell, who was appointed chief several months ago, said legacy issues, such as debt which built up over past years, was a major problem.

He cited as an example the €4m in higher fuel costs the energy-hungry company had had to pay over the past seven years because of its reliance on oil for its power. It was only in the past few weeks, and following years of talks, and talks about talks, that natural gas was brought in, more than halving its energy costs overnight.

'Because we were reliant on oil, we had to pay an additional €4m on oil in comparison with what we would have spent on gas,' he said.

Asked whether Celtic Linen had lost any of its customers in recent times, Mr Campbell said the company had 'lost a volume of customers over the last period of time for a variety of reasons.' He did not elaborate.

But he said with the upturn in the economy and the growth in the hotel sector, Celtic Linen was sell positioned to win new business with its cheaper costs and hopefully new investment in plant and equipment.

'There's organic growth in the market and a positive outlook in the hospitality industry and Celtic are part of that,' said Mr Campbell, expressing appreciation for the support of all stakeholders. 'It's business as usual. I want to get that message across and that we are now focused on seeking new investment for the company.'

Wexford People

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