This week, after 50 years of operation in Sanquhar in my constituency, EME Furniture has closed its doors, resulting in significant local job losses. Only last year, it was talking about millions of pounds of investment and doubling its workforce. The company blamed procurement issues with Scotland Excel for the decision. Therefore, can the First Minister tell me what the Scottish Government is doing to ensure that Scotland’s small and medium-sized enterprises can compete for public sector contracts, and will she offer her assurances to the workforce that all possible support will be given at what is a difficult time?
Over the past few years, the Scottish Government has made a number of amendments and reforms to our system of procurement, specifically designed to make it more streamlined and transparent and better able to help more small and medium-sized enterprises across our country. We will continue to look for opportunities to do that even further.
I was, of course, disappointed to hear of the closure of EME Furniture in Sanquhar. I know that this will be an exceptionally difficult time for the affected staff, their families and, indeed, the wider local area. Scottish Enterprise has already engaged with the company to explore all possible options for supporting the business to try to avoid this outcome, but, unfortunately, the company has taken the decision to close the site.
Scottish Enterprise will continue to engage with the company and is now working to identify any and all possible future opportunities for the site and its workforce. The partnership action for continuing employment team has also made contact with the company to offer assistance to the workers who are affected.