Fountains plans improvements

Fountains chief executive Richard Haddon has said a more robust induction programme for staff will help prevent strike threats and keep the company's profits at the record levels announced this week.

Turnover increased by 10 per cent to £44.7m for the year ending 30 September 2007, while profits were £1.9m against a record loss of £1.6m in 2006.

Haddon said the forestry and landscaping firm had turned around a "very tough position regarding cash and customers" through reorganisation, which has cut staff by 18 per cent but decreased days lost to accidents by 75 per cent and increased customer satisfaction by 20 per cent. New grounds maintenance contracts at Tower Hamlets and Wandsworth have added £4.2m a year to turnover.

Unions threatened Fountains with pay-related strikes this year (HW, 27 September) but Haddon said he had no problems with existing contracts, and it was "the threat of change and new ownership" that had caused the issues.

He said that if the workforce was an "unknown quantity" and staff "decide to react in that way, it is up to us to allay their fears".

He added that a better induction programme, more expenditure on protective equipment and new small tools showed new staff they were being "looked after and protected" by the company.

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