Bales Worldwide is in consultation with a fifth of its workforce over potential redundancies as it attempts to streamline the business in the wake of the current economic crisis.

A total of 12 staff, including three part-timers, from across the luxury tour operator’s business went into consultation on Monday. The Dorking-based company employs just under 60 staff in total.

Sales and marketing director Iain Fenton said: “Like so many other companies, we are having to tighten our belt and make sure we are in good shape for 2009. It’s about cost efficiencies.”

Fenton added the individual consultations process was being done in as sensitive a way as possible.

He admitted sales for the operator had slowed, showing the luxury sector was not immune to the economic downturn. “It’s going to be a really tough year,” he added.

In October Thomas Cook-owned Elegant Resorts made 25 roles redundant to improve operational efficiencies. ITC Classics also made redundancies at the end of last year.