POOLE’S biggest private employer, Sunseeker International, is suspending work for the “vast majority” of its staff – but the town’s cosmetics brand Lush is continuing production at its factories.

Another Dorset employer, REIDsteel, is halting work after its boss said he could not “in all conscience sit working from home” while other staff were on its sites.

Sunseeker said it would be suspending production until the end of April and was offering support to NHS supply companies during the shutdown.

The move came after the government introduced its wide-ranging curb on people’s freedoms and said everyone should work from home if possible.

A statement from Sunseeker said: “Following the Prime Minister’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) update, Sunseeker International is temporarily suspending production until the end of April for the vast majority of employees. Some safety-critical and continuity roles will remain but at a very low level.

“Our actions will ensure that we are in a strong position to resume our substantial new model development programme, manufacturing and deliveries as soon as possible.

“We would like to thank all our staff for their continued and unwavering support during these times. Our gratitude also extends to our suppliers, dealers globally and our loyal customers, keen to get back on the water soon.”

Poole’s world-famous cosmetics brand Lush said: “With all of Lush’s UK and Ireland I retail stores closed, our amazing factory staff are doing all they can to keep producing product for our online customers, after we have been advised by the government’s relevant departments that ‘Given the public health advice for individuals to keep washing their hands we see this as an important industry’.

“The government have also stated that online retail is still open and actively encouraged, and that the postal and delivery systems are intended to be kept in place and running as normal, to ensure the public can access goods from home, during this time of self-isolation.”

REIDsteel, which employs 130 people, said it was suspending operations at its Christchurch base and all construction sites.

Managing director Simon Boyd said: “I cannot in all conscience sit working from home while sending people out to our manufacturing facility and to our construction sites. They should be at home with their families.

“This has not been an easy decision to make but these are unprecedented times.”

Nationwide Building Society – which employs more than 1,000 people locally – said the majority of its administration staff in Bournemouth were now working from home, while hours have been reduced at its branches.

The society has a large administration operation at Portman House on Richmond Hill, Bournemouth.

A spokesman said: “We are encouraging all our employees who are able to work remotely to do so. This step will protect the society’s employees and our ability to continue to support our members.

“The majority of our employees based at our admin centre in Bournemouth are now working remotely and those employees who are coming on site will be asked to adhere to the government’s advice on social distancing.”

Around 50 of the society’s 650 branches have closed because of staffing shortages, while 450 are operating only during “core” hours. The rest have locally-determined opening hours published on the society’s website.

Bournemouth’s biggest private employer, JP Morgan, did not comment, but it is understood that the vast majority of its local staff are working from home. A small number are at the Chaseside base supporting critical technology and activities.

Car dealership group Hendy has closed its showrooms and was completing existing work at its workshops yesterday.

From today, it said it would have four workshops open to support key workers and the public sector, with one of them likely to be in Dorset.

"We will have a small number of people working in these workshops. We also have staff working from home to handle customer enquiries and online used car sales," a statement said.