Bruck textiles demise saddens former boss

FORMER Bruck Textiles chief executive officer Alan Williamson says he is sorry to see the demise of the company he led for more than a decade.

He left Bruck in March 2012 and recently returned to the textiles industry as the interim chief executive of Bradmill Outdoor Fabrics.

Mr Williamson said his immediate thoughts turned to the 60 workers who lost their jobs and entitlements in the creation of a new company, Australian Textile Mills.

He was replaced as Bruck chief executive by Geoff Parker, who will stay on in the same role with Australian Textile Mills.

“It is an iconic business and I thought the focus needed to be on Bruck,” Mr Williamson said.

“I was sad to go, but I wasn’t pushed out.

“All I focused on last Friday was job losses and the impact on workers and community.

“Hand on heart I can say the company was in good shape, had a wonderful workforce and was receiving support from the Commonwealth and state governments as it should.”

After leaving Bruck, Mr Williamson set up his own advisory company before agreeing to take up the role with Bradmill.

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The former Bradmill site in central Melbourne was recently sold to Asian investors for a reported $120million, with manufacturing ceasing at the site after fabric weaving was sent overseas in 2007.

Mr Williamson said the textiles industry was incredibly hard.

“It is true the market has got tougher,” he said.

“It may be that a different style of management has been adopted.

“But had I been chief executive last week l would have stood in front of the workers and delivered that message with a heavy heart.

“At times I was tough.

“There is absolutely no doubt not everybody liked me, but I would like to think there was respect.”

Mr Williamson said he expected federal government funding to cover unpaid entitlements, but he said Wangaratta Council had a role in ensuring the new company remained viable.

He recalled the first conversation he had with former Wangaratta mayor Geoff Dinning.

“He said ‘I am the mayor of Wangaratta and I am here to make sure our council does anything to help Bruck’,” Mr Williamson said.

“The council now should be looking at themselves and asking themselves ‘have we done enough to help Bruck?’”

Mr Williamson wouldn’t be drawn into a comparison between a recent Bradmill land sell off and a proposed residential development on Bruck land.

“I wasn’t employed at Bradmill at the time and I am not employed at Bruck now,” he said.

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