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Glass giant Pilkington's global cuts affect St Helens plants

Post Time:Apr 08,2009Classify:Company NewsView:338

GLASSMAKER Pilkington is making cuts at its St Helens operation as part of a global restructure by its Japanese parent company, NSG.

The £150m programme will reduce its global workforce by 5,800 people – about 15% – by March, 2010, and half of those cuts have already taken place, predominantly in China and the Philippines. The firm employs about half of its 4,000-strong UK workforce in the St Helens area.

The changes are designed to ensure the company’s viability, with the target of re-establishing profit growth from 2011. It is to close its Automotive Value Added operation, in St Helens, with the loss of 11 jobs. The firm said an “unprecedented” drop in demand and a reduction in future orders meant there was insufficient work to keep the operation busy.

The site had been operating on a short-time working basis in recent months, but the severe downturn in new car sales has hit the glassmaker’s automotive division badly, resulting in “very high levels of over-capacity” across the group. NSG has also taken a number of steps at other automotive plants, including announcing closures of divisions in Austria, Finland and Germany.

It said yesterday that, although trading in its automotive and speciality glass divisions were in line with forecasts announced in February, its building products markets, particularly in Europe, had deteriorated further.

Most of Pilkington’s UK sites are in its building products division, including a float line at Greengate, in St Helens, which remains on extended shutdown.

The company said it will extend its restructuring programme next month in a move costing a further £20m. However, the economic downturn has seen the firm have to take out capacity equivalent to two of its 16 float lines in Europe.

In a statement, NSG said: “The group's major building products’ markets remain depressed and have continued to decline in the last three months.

“Current market demand levels in building products’ markets are 25% below last year in most markets. European price levels for commodity glass continued to erode through February and March and are now 40% below the levels of 12 months ago. Recovery is not expected until the second half of 2010, at the earliest.”

Source: Liverpool Daily Post Author: shangyi

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