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The BBC has reported that concerns have been raised about the possibility of job losses at the head office of Hoover in Merthyr Tydfil.

Welsh Assembly Member Huw Lewis says he understands an announcement will be made soon on a plant employing 500. Hoover makes washing machines and tumble driers in Merthyr, which houses its sales and marketing departments.

Hoover said a 2009 business plan was being put together, but no decisions had been made, and called Mr Lewis's comments "not very helpful".

The company said it was concerned about the future, but it was no different to the concerns it had every year because it operates in a tough market.

It has recently encountered difficulties as a result of falling high street prices for white goods, rising raw material and energy costs and the overall downturn in terms of the economy and exchange rates.

Mr Lewis said: "We've all heard the rumours about the possibility of there being problems with jobs at Hoover in Merthyr and we're all very worried about those rumours.

"I know that the Welsh Assembly Government are involved with talking through options for the future for Hoover in Merthyr and I know that there is a commitment on the part of the assembly government to keeping Hoover's presence in the community. I'm 100% behind that.

"Whatever the future, and I understand that an announcement on the matter will be made soon, the management, workforce, assembly and the trade unions I know will work towards keeping as many jobs as possible in the Merthyr area."

Hoover Candy vice-president, human resources, David Lunt said he did not disagree with the main points in Mr Lewis's statement but described his comments as "not very helpful".

"There is no specific threat to jobs at the moment," said Mr Lunt. "We are not having any substantive discussions with anyone.

"And the first people you would expect me to have a substantive discussion with would be with the workers. "We don't have any plans to do that at the moment. We have heard the rumours. It is worrying.

"But it has been worrying for the past 15 years and this is no different. Every year we put a budget together and every year the issue comes up. It's exactly the same as every other year."

"There are general concerns. No decisions have been taken."

Responding to Mr Lewis' comments, a Welsh Assembly Government spokesman said: "We do not comment on any commercial discussions we may or may not be having with any company.

"We are of course very concerned about any potential job losses at any company in Wales, and we would of course look to provide our full support to any company facing any kind of difficulty."

The concerns about Hoover's future in Wales come on the eve of the second Welsh economic summit, which will be at St Asaph, Denbighshire.

More detail on this story including an interview with Huw Lewis is available from Wales Online 

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