AN engineering firm is to axe jobs, cut pay and extend short-time working in a bold bid to ride out the recession.

Thomas Broadbent and Sons Ltd, based at Queen Street South, is planning up to 18 redundancies among its 140-strong workforce.

The company, which makes centrifuges for the sugar, chemical and petrochemical industries and supplies industrial-scale laundry equipment, is also extending a four-day week that has been affecting 10 staff to cover about 30 employees.

And all the firm’s workers will also take a pay cut averaging 10% – possibly for up to 12 months.

Managing director Simon Broadbent said the cutbacks had been decided after a company-wide review.

He said: “Business is reasonably stable, but it is at a lower level than we were hoping at this time.

“Sales in the sugar and laundry industries and the foundry are pretty reasonable and the prospects for next year are looking good.

“It is the chemical and petrochemical industries where prospects are poor.”

Mr Broadbent said excess capacity around the world due to lower demand for finished products meant companies were not investing in new equipment.

“Potential customers are holding back on any capital investment for the time being,” he said. “We have to wait until the recession is properly over and people are confident enough to invest again.”

Mr Broadbent said the company expected to make the redundancies in the next three to four weeks and was seeking volunteers in the first instance.

“We have a flexible and multi-skilled workforce, which means we should be able to move people around to accommodate volunteers,” he said.

A four-day week which has been affecting 10 employees will be extended to about 30 staff and will continue at least until Christmas.

Mr Broadbent said everyone at the company was unhappy with the situation, but said the manufacturing sector as a whole was facing similar problems.

The setback comes as Broadbents lays plans to move its operations onto a single site to make way for a proposed £40m Asda supermarket.

Leeds-based Asda wants to build a 49,000sq ft store on the site of the Broadbents factory and offices bounded by Huddersfield ring road, Chapel Hill, Milford Street and Queen Street South.

Broadbents, which was founded in 1864, proposes to transfer all operations to its site on the opposite side of Queen Street South between Huddersfield University and the Examiner building.

Mr Broadbent said the site sought by Asda is too large for the engineering firm’s needs and the layout and size is no longer suitable for modern industrial machinery and equipment.

In its planning application, Broadbent said the move would ensure security of employment and continuity for the business as well as creating temporary jobs during construction work.

Asda’s plans include a two-tier car park providing 560 spaces, a cafe, a pharmacy and the full range of Asda products, including George clothing. It hopes to open the store in 2011.