TMCnet News

[March 20, 2006]


(Liverpool Echo Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)MORE than 100 jobs will be axed through the closure of St Helens glass giant Pilkington's Eccleston automotive plant, the firm has revealed.

The company broke the news to shocked workers and union officials late on Friday.

Bosses say they plan to close the site by early next year but they hope to cushion the blow for the 112 workers affected.

They also deny that the plant's closure is linked to Pilkington's proposed pounds 2.2bn takeover by Japan's Nippon Glass, details of which are being sent out to shareholders today.

Automotive president Pat Zito said: "Despite significant efforts by all employees over the past years to improve the competitive position of the Eccleston plant, we have been unable to reduce costs and improve productivity to levels which make it economically possible for Pilkington to continue to supply its customers from the plant."

He said that during the phased closure, the company will take "all reasonable steps" possible to mitigate the effects of the closure, including alternative employment opportunities and out-placement support.

The company also released a trading update today and chief executive Stuart Chambers revealed: "Trading in global group companies remains in line with our expectations, with a good performance in automotive and building products holding up."

However, he warned that the contribution from the company's joint ventures, in locations as diverse as Brazil and China, will be "substantially lower" than the previous year.

The building products markets remain mixed, despite higher sales revenues. And the automotive sector benefited from several successful new product launches by motor manufacturers.

Today's announcement also warned that due to Nippon's proposed takeover, which requires the approval of shareholders, the relevant regulatory authorities and the courts, the announcement of Pilkington's results covering the financial period to March 31 is likely to be delayed.

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