Devastating Blow For Sanquhar As ‘Eme Furniture’ Factory Announces Closure

EME Furniture based in Sanquhar, Dumfries and Galloway has manufactured educational furniture since 1965. After a recent £3-million investment in a significant expansion of its operations at its Sanquhar factory, the factory is now closing with the loss of 38 jobs.

In 1965 Educational And Municipal Equipment Ltd, an Oldham based company, expanded their UK operations and secured part of their market share in Scotland by opening emeScotland in Sanquhar.  This was the first Scottish Development Agency factory on the Sanquhar Industrial Estate and part of the regeneration of the area following the decline in coal mining.  The company began by manufacturing plywood laminated products, predominantly chairs, gradually expanding into other wood based products such as table tops.

emeScotland was purchased by the Howland Furniture group in 1969 and through the early 1970’s production was extended to include a metal fabrication shop for manufacture of table and chair frames as well as other component parts.

The 1990’s saw major investment in the company with new equipment, expansion of the site and further additions to the product range. An upholstery department was also added.

In March 2009 EME was purchased by the Directors of British Thornton Direct Ltd, a West Yorkshire based educational furniture manufacturer. Further investments have been made in machinery and equipment, the site has been extended and the business has focused on design and product development to meet the furniture needs of the modern school.


South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth commented on the announcement that EME Furniture in Sanquhar is to close with the loss of 38 jobs-


 “This is devastating news for the workforce and a massive blow to the local community. When I spoke to some employees in Sanquhar on Friday, it was clear the closure wasn’t a surprise. Having discussed the move with the company, it’s also clear there is no prospect of the decision being reversed. The council and Scottish Enterprise have been seeking to support the company for some time but ultimately the failure to secure key contracts has effectively made this announcement inevitable and attention now needs to turn to supporting those facing redundancy. Sadly, upper Nithsdale is too often a forgotten part of our region and there are a limited number of alternative employers, but that’s why I’ve impressed upon all agencies to work round the clock to support those losing their jobs, some of whom have given decades of service to the furniture factory.”


Just Last year the company announced that they had invested £3m in the significant expansion of its operations at its Sanquhar home in Dumfries & Galloway. Now part of British Thornton, the UK’s largest group of educational furniture manufacturers, EME Furniture has substantially increased its manufacturing capacity through facilitating a move to larger premises, employing a significant number of new staff and investing in high-tech machinery.

Previously housed in two separate buildings totalling 35,000 square feet, the EME Furniture factory had moved to a single building of 115,000 square feet, trebling the floor space of its manufacturing facility.