Highlands & Islands

Warning over collapse of Caithness freezer maker Icetech

The collapse of the UK's "last" freezer manufacturer will have an "awful" effect on local employment, the firm's provisional liquidator has said.

New owners are being sought for Icetech Freezers in Castletown, near Thurso.

Most of its 70 staff were made redundant on Monday and the company was put into provisional liquidation the next day.

David Hunter, of chartered accountants Campbell Dallas, said the small Castletown community could be hit hard.

He told BBC Radio Scotland: "Our first job is to find out if there is a buyer for this business.

"If we are not able to sell, it will be pretty awful for the little town of Castletown. It would be badly affected as Icetech is a very large employer in the area."

Two challenges

Mr Hunter said Icetech's parent company, John G Russell Transport, had started the process of finding a new owner for the freezer manufacturer six months ago.

He said Icetech had been facing two challenges - competition from cheaper Chinese imports and last year's collapse of the Comet electrical goods chain.

Mr Hunter said: "Icetech spent a lot of money making sure all their products complied with regulations."

He added: "Comet went out of business owing a significant amount of money. The parent company was left with £900,000 of a loss and it was Russells and not the banks that was financing the business."

Icetech was formerly known as Norfrost, a company that was headed by a former businesswoman of the year, Pat Grant.

John G Russell bought Norfrost out of administration in 2005 and changed its name but kept some of the Norfrost branding.

According to Icetech Freezers' website, the business was producing 160,000 appliances a year at its Castleton site.

Since the launch of the original company 40 years ago, the firm has built and sold about 10 million products.

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