A YORK business is to close with the loss of 75 jobs - despite making almost a million pounds in profit last year.

Shepherd Building Group says it has decided to go ahead with shutting Portastor after having worked with employees to try to identify viable alternatives.

Companies House figures show Portastor made a £934,000 operating profit before exceptional items last year and £3.1 million in 2017. The profit figures have prompted an employee to claim that the firm’s fortunes had been turned around and that Shepherd was "morally wrong" to close it down.

But Shepherd said Portastor had returned "substantial losses" over the past 10 years and, despite a "short-lived return to profitability", had been losing money again in 2019.

It said the closure decision had not been taken lightly and it "deeply regrets how unsettling this will be for our employees and their families".

The Press reported in July how Shepherd was proposing to close the Portastor business, based off New Lane, Huntington, following the completion and delivery of existing customer contracts.

The company said then that the proposal followed an internal strategic review and an unsuccessful attempt to sell the business, which manufactured solid steel, secure storage units to store plant, equipment, tools or goods.

The Press recently received a copy of an ‘employee statement’ said to have been sent to the Shepherd group board.

The statement claimed employees had worked hard and remained loyal through numerous re-structures and new management over recent years, and had "turned around the fortunes of this company".

It claimed: “We got it to a profit-making, sound business with a great product range and a growing reputation.”

It also claimed that the management had wanted to buy it, and other businesses had wanted to develop the company, but the board had said no to "each chance for a future".

It added: “We believe that this is wrong, morally wrong - the proposal for closure is simply wrong.”

But a Shepherd Building Group spokesperson said: “Over the past 10 years, the business has returned substantial losses, and despite a short-lived return to profitability, in 2019 the business is loss making again.

“Following failed attempts to sell the business, in July this year the proposal to close was announced and collective consultation commenced where we worked with employees to identify viable alternatives to closure.

“Following a collective consultation process, we can confirm that regrettably, a decision has now been taken to close the Portastor business.

“We have worked hard to identify alternatives to closure that would secure the business and the future employment of our people. Sadly, despite the best efforts of all parties we have not been able to do that.

“We have told our employees of this decision and understandably there is a great deal of disappointment and upset. We recognise their commitment to the Portastor business over the past 45 years.” They added that the company would provide employees and their families with the necessary support over coming months.