The Eden Project has announced it having to make more than 200 people redundant as the affects of the coronavirus pandemic hit finances.
Eden’s Biomes near St Austell were closed for more than three months during national lockdown and reopened on July 4 with significantly reduced visitor capacity due to social distancing requirements.
The prolonged closure and continuing restrictions on visitor numbers have resulted in Eden Project Ltd losing more than £7 million in revenue so far this financial year, it said in a statement this lunchtime.
Staff members were informed at briefings earlier today that the financial losses mean that redundancies will need to follow. A six-week consultation process and restructure has now begun across all areas and levels of the company.
The Eden Project estimates that around 150 full-time equivalent jobs will be lost out of the current total of 375 full-time equivalent jobs, a reduction of 40 per cent.
This will mean that around 200 to 220 people in full and part-time roles are likely to leave the organisation as a result of the restructure.
Eden said today that it would provide the fullest support in whatever ways it can to those employees whose jobs are at risk.
In a statement on behalf of the Eden Project board, David Harland, executive director, said: “It is a hugely saddening day for the whole team as we work so closely together. Redundancies are our last resort.
“We pay tribute to everyone for the way in which they have responded to the most difficult and challenging year we have ever had and ensured that Eden is safe and ready to welcome visitors back.
“As our income shrank to nothing for many weeks, we have had to remain resilient and constantly adapt. Sadly the economic shock caused by the pandemic means that we cannot maintain our current staffing levels.
“Social distancing is here for the foreseeable future and this means that as we enter what is our busiest period of the year, for safety reasons we are capping our peak visitor capacity at around one-third of that in a normal summer. This will continue to hit our income hard because we are so reliant on summer trade.
“In regular briefings, including staff who have been on furlough, we have been open about the devastating financial effects so far.
“Such are the financial challenges, having explored all other avenues, job losses on a considerable scale have become inevitable. It is with heavy hearts that we are speaking with colleagues and starting the restructure process now in order to safeguard Eden’s future.”
Mr Harland said that one of the big challenges to come would be getting through the autumn and winter with reduced visitor numbers and income but that it is hoped that from next spring Eden will be able to re-employ at least some of those whose jobs will be lost in the coming weeks.
He said: “It is a painful process for all within the organisation. We pay tribute to all members of the Eden family for their continuing dedication and professionalism in these difficult times.”
Mr Harland said that the development wing of the organisation, Eden Project International Limited, would continue to drive forward projects in other parts of the UK and overseas.
He added: “Eden Project International is continuing to grow and its developments are largely unaffected by the pandemic. The continued progress of our national and international projects is vital in helping our Cornwall headquarters recover from the huge loss in revenue. Our aspiration is to quickly build back the collective strength of the group.”