A FACTORY boss who wants to bring hundreds of jobs to Cumbernauld has admitted that the fiercely competitive bidding process for orders is barring his way.
Cumbernauld manufacturing boss Jim Hunter is trying to win key contracts for the Fecsa UK plant in Westfield. The factory makes uniforms for armed forces over the globe.
In June we reported that the plant hoped to be up and running in the autumn - and a host of readers got in contact with the News, wanting to know how they could apply for a job there.
However trading conditions are proving tough in the financial downturn as Mr Hunter attempts to win contracts from the Ministry of Defence.
These must pass through a controversial process known as reverse auctions - where sellers compete to obtain business, and prices typically decrease over time. Competing firms are shortlisted to a final three before entering into an auction. The cheapest offer is immediately offered the contract.
But Mr Hunter said that he cannot operate under those conditions, despite his best attempts to get the operation running in 2010.
He told the News "I don't want to give the impression that I am downbeat about Fecsa because that is NOT the case. I am confident that we can bring jobs to Cumbernauld - and to actually expand our operation here.
"What I am genuinely frustrated about is the frustrating system of reverse auctions which is holding us back. We are competing against companies who are selling for cheaper than cost price. This is how difficult the market is proving to be right now," admitted Mr Hunter.
Other companies like Spain - where Fecsa has its headquarters- have ceased using this bidding process because they believe it to be flawed - and Mr Hunter wishes that the UK would follow its example.
''This is supposed to save the MOD money but I believe this is a false belief because these cheaper goods do not last as long and are not fit for purpose," said Mr Hunter who believes that they also compromise the safety of our armed personnel. This claim has been vigorously denied by the MOD.
As we reported in last week's News, Mr Hunter discussed business with two Scottish Nationalist politicians who visited the plant - Central Scotland List MSP Jamie Hepburn and Member of the European Parliament Ian Hudghton.
It also transpires that Another MEP Struan Stevenson is to visit the plant in January - also with a view to discussing how contacts at the European Union might further assist the firm.