UK: Bosch plant under threat of closure
Robert Bosch, widely predicted to report its first loss this year in more than 60 years, could close its plant in South Wales (UK) with the loss of more than 900 jobs.
Reports earlier this week suggested that the world's largest supplier could lose up to EUR3bn (US$4.4bn) in 2009. Last year's net profit of EUR372m was 87% lower than the previous year's profit. Bosch has not commented on the figures dismissing them as "market speculation."
The South Wales plant started axing jobs 13 months ago with the loss of 320 agency staff and 284 Bosch contracted employees. It currently employs around 900 developing and building generators for the car industry.
Bosch told local media that a decision on the future of the plant could be made as early as next February. A meeting between management and union officials is scheduled for 20 October.
Employees at the plant in Miskin have been helping to develop a new low-cost generator at Bosch facilities in Spain and Germany fuelling speculation that the work at Miskin could be moved to low-cost centres in Hungary or elsewhere.
Bosch told local media that the low-cost generator would not be produced in Miskin but at a "commercially viable cost" - with the plant in Hungary deemed to be the most cost-effective location in Europe.
The spokeswoman said: "The Bosch Cardiff plant is working together with Bosch Germany on the next generation of alternators.
"The validation and assessment of technical concepts, commercial viability and market potential and finally the timeline for a planned market introduction is part of our business plan for 2010.
"Cardiff is now leading the projects for advanced production processes which will give our products a competitive edge. Currently the alternator does not even exist as a customer sample.
"The financial constraints imposed by the decline for conventional alternators and, in parallel, newly-emerging challenges by future engine concepts, require a thorough preparation of any decision regarding new alternator products and production location.
"At this stage no decision has been or can be made and this has been clearly communicated to the complete Cardiff workforce in a face-to-face employee briefing held by the management."