Pierre Vigoureux started working at Evesham Micro – as it was then known – in December 1991. When he arrived for work two days ago, after a two week holiday, he was greeted by a security guard who had two lists: ‘retained’ and ‘not retained’. Vigoureux, was on the latter.
In spite of this, Vigoureux holds no ill-will towards chairman Richard Austin (pictured). "This had nothing to do with Richard Austin," he said in a letter to PC Retail, "but with the administrators. And they were administrators – not bailiffs. Administrators are just accountants – not managers – who obviously think that the best way of halving labour costs is to lay off half the staff in each department."
He also questions some accounts of how the redundancies were announced. "I don’t believe that anyone was told by text or e-mail that they had lost their job. Not when I (and everyone else) had been warned more than two weeks earlier (before I went on holiday) that there was a possibility that none of us would have jobs by the time I came back."
It’s inevitable that, when a company goes into administration, the man in charge is blamed. But Vigoureux believes Austin always had the best interests of Evesham Technology at heart. "Unlike some former employees I don’t begrudge Richard Austin his (submerged!) Ferrari," he said. "It is wrong to blame Richard for ‘relying too much’ on HCI. The government HAD made a commitment on HCI, which it broke. You can’t blame Richard for taking advantage of it. Or for spending his money as he wants."
Vigoureux concedes that, clearly, mistakes were made. But he thinks that Evesham’s problems are mainly a product of the general trading environment faced by UK PC makers. "At least he made the effort to continue to compete in a ‘globalised’ market, where the Chinese work for lower wages, where any reasonably competent IT person can set up a company network using standardised components and software and where Tesco can always sell ‘boxes’ cheaper than anyone else," he said.
In conclusion, he echoed the fears of all but the largest players in the IT industry: "So ask yourself this," he said. "What happens when NOTHING is MADE in the UK, because labour costs are too high? What happens when the ONLY place you can buy anything is either in Tesco or online? Or when ALL ‘after sales support’ is contracted out to India? Or when NOTHING manufactured is ever fixed, just thrown away as ‘uneconomical to repair’? When the UK doesn’t even have even a "’service economy’ because no one wants to take the risks that Richard Austin took every day?"
Food for thought. Please send your comments to PC Retail editor Scott Bicheno.