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MH Bland warns of ‘possible redundancies’ as Covid-19 hits tourism hard

Eyleen Gomez

The tourism division of MH Bland will be restructured following the “massive impact” the Covid-19 pandemic has had on tourism in Gibraltar and globally.

The company said the Cable Car and Calypso Tours Ltd are entirely dependent on tourism from across the frontier and cruise liners.

This sector has been hit particularly hard by the lockdown and restrictions on travel and the company has said the downturn in business has left them with “no alternative.”

MH Bland has now entered into a 60-day consultation period with staff in its Tourism Division and said it “seeks to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on the company.”

In a press statement, the company added that the Cable Car and Calypso Tours now need to adapt their operations due to the “reduced number of tourists that Gibraltar can expect to see in these extraordinary times during, and post, the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Director of MH Bland, George Gaggero, expressed his enormous regret at having to notify staff of the need to restructure and of the possibility of redundancies.

He also thanked the Gibraltar Government for its support with the BEAT Covid measures, adding that the company is doing “everything possible” to seek viable alternatives for staff.

“The harsh reality is that the extended duration of the required closure due to Covid-19, and the inevitable downturn of tourism, has left us with no alternative but to seek to restructure our Tourism Division,” Mr Gaggero said.

“It will come as little surprise to anyone that Covid-19 has had a massive impact across all sectors of the international tourism industry, and, unfortunately, it stands to reason that Gibraltar and the Cable Car will not be left unscathed.”

“Nevertheless, we will make every attempt to relocate staff to other positions within the MH Bland Group and to consider incentives to those who may wish to avail themselves of voluntary redundancy packages.”

“MH Bland has its roots firmly placed in Gibraltar for over 200 years and our staff have been part of our wider family. It is, therefore, particularly hard for my brother and I to feel it necessary to take these steps.”

Mr Gaggero added that the company will “endure difficult times in the short term”, but he believes that “in time Gibraltar and MH Bland will rebound and come back stronger.”

MH Bland has not offered details of how many people will be impacted by the restructure.

The news of possible redundancies at MH Bland follows that of Hassans International Law Firm and marine services company Resolve.

Last week Hassans signalled “unavoidable redundancies” and told staff the firm had initiated a formal 60-day consultation as it looked to reorganise its resources.

The firm had said Covid-19 had made many businesses hold off planned investments and press their service providers, including lawyers, for reductions in fees.

Last month Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said the economic impact of Covid-19 has meant Gibraltar is facing a recession.

Mr Picardo has said Gibraltar had suffered “a huge setback in growth” over the second quarter of 2020 and the next quarter was “going to be the same.”

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