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Aardman jobs may move to Germany

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: February 02, 2012

Some Aardman creations, like Gromit, may relocate to Germany

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The Bristol animation firm Aardman has once again warned that it might be forced to move vital jobs overseas.

The award-winning firm employs about 250 staff at its Harbourside headquarters.

But the multiple Oscar winner has hinted that tax breaks on the Continent could lead to the production of its latest TV show being moved to Germany.

About 40 new jobs are to be created thanks to a new animated TV series called Ploo, but one of the bosses at the home of Wallace of Gromit has warned that just a handful are likely to be in Bristol.

About six staff will work on the show in Bristol and the rest of the labour intensive work would go to Germany.

Last November the firm fired the first warning shot in its complaints about tax breaks and claimed that the company was looking to move more work abroad to take advantage of tax concessions.

Miles Bullough, the head of broadcast at Aardman, repeated the warning yesterday but he went on to insist the company would "not be leaving Bristol in a hurry".

Mr Bullough added that he had lobbied the Government to bring in tax credits for his industry in line with arrangements in Ireland, Canada, France and Germany.

But in an interview with the New Statesman, he added: "Clearly our politicians can't wave a magic wand and make everyone else's tax credits go away. But we have asked for a credit of 15 to 20 per cent on corporation tax to be introduced, along similar lines to the film tax credit. Then we can catch up with the competition in one leap."

Ploo, which will be aimed at the pre-school market, will be a £3 million production.

Mr Bullough added: "A dozen top-notch broadcasters are ready to buy it. And our first choice would be to do all the work in Bristol."

But he added the company is tempted by the idea a German co-production.

He said: "To unlock the maximum German subsidy, all the labour-intensive work would go over there. And we would end up with five or six jobs in the UK."

But Mr Bullough played down recent reports that he had threatened to move Aardman overseas. He clamed the reports were "slightly taken out of context".

He added: "We are a British company and proud of it. We are a Bristol company and proud of it. We will not be leaving here in a hurry."

Before Christmas Mr Bullough claimed there was a "crisis" in the UK's TV animation industry and that homegrown shows were being lost to cheaper foreign competitors.

He said: "When a company like Aardman is considering off-shoring stop-frame animation, which we are at the moment, something has got to be wrong.

"There is genuinely a crisis. HIT, a beacon of excellence in children's animation in the UK and maker of Bob the Builder and Pingu, has just been bought by US company Mattel.

"Cosgrove Hall, known for Dangermouse and Avenger Penguins, is sadly no longer with us."

Treasury spokesman Matthew O'Toole said: "We recognise the importance of the animation industry and the UK's proud international reputation for excellence in this creative sector.

"The future support for this is being considered as part of the film policy review."

Aardman recently had success with movie Arthur Christmas.

Its next release Pirates! is due out this spring.

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