Acorn Stairlifts, which employs more than 500 people at its Steeton head office and factory, has opened redundancy talks with workers.

The company has revealed it was consulting on a small number of redundancies as part of a routine review of operating structure and procedures.

The company last month reported a successful 2018/19 financial year with group revenue rising by 7.4 per cent, to £241.1 million, and an operating profit increased from £22.2m to £27.7m.

The annual report did not include the impact of the pandemic or Britain’s exit from the European Union, but at the time Acorn bosses voiced confidence they could overcome both challenges.

Human Resources director Kate Gledhill said: “As a business employing more than 600 people throughout the UK, we continually review our operating structure and procedures to remain as efficient as possible.

“This is normal working practice which can lead to both the creation of new roles and some roles becoming redundant. As part of that routine process we have recently been consulting on a small number of redundancies. Wherever possible we have redeployed people into existing vacancies in order to avoid job losses.”

In its recent company report, directors said that whilst next year’s figures were likely to be affected by Covid-19 and Brexit, they were confident the detrimental impact would be temporary and would be followed by a gradual recovery.

The board added that with strong cash reserves and no bank debt, the firm was well placed to meet any challenges. It had taken steps to strengthen its supply routes from Europe.

Although exchange rates could be affected, around 85 per cent of Acorn’s total revenue comes from within the UK or other non-EU countries.

On the release of last month’s report, group finance director, Joanne Richardson, said: “Our latest results show continued sales growth, both in the UK and our overseas markets.

“Improved operational efficiencies have positively impacted the overall result, maintaining our market-leading position.

“The Covid-19 pandemic emerged after this results period and the business has had to adapt during this challenging time. However, we expect the effects to be short term.”

The privately-owned company – founded as a one-man operation in Bradford in 1992 – now employs 1,588 people worldwide, up by 52 on the previous year.

More than 500 work at – or from – the head office and factory on Steeton’s Millennium Business Park.

The latest figures show that export sales now account for 71.5 per cent of Acorn’s total turnover. The firm exports its stairlifts to around 80 countries worldwide and has wholly-owned subsidiaries operating in North America, Canada, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Its North American market in particular experienced positive sales growth during the year covered by the report.

Acorn has continued its operations throughout the pandemic, maintaining existing customers’ stairlifts and installing new ones where there has been strong need.