Wednesday, November 7, 2018

News: Rotherham plant saved as German auto manufacturer announces restructure

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Global automotive and industrial supplier, Schaeffler, is keeping its factory in Rotherham open as part of restructure plans for the UK influenced by uncertainties over Brexit.

The executive board of the Schaeffler Group, a German manufacturer of rolling element bearings for automotive, aerospace and industrial uses, has decided to reorganise its activities in the UK which will lead to the closure of sites in Llanelli and Plymouth.

Schaeffler currently has three plants in the UK, in Plymouth (Barden Corporation Ltd.), Llanelli and Rotherham, and two logistics centres, in Hereford and Sutton Coldfield. The UK locations have a total workforce of just over 1,000 people.

Rotherham, the biggest of Schaeffler's UK locations in terms of revenues and employee numbers, will be retained in its current form.

The plant at Waleswood assembles clutches for passenger cars and tractors and was previously part of the firm's LuK brand. It supplies the likes of Nissan and Toyota.

It is proposed to close the Llanelli and Plymouth sites in the medium term and relocate production to existing plants outside the UK, in the US, China, South Korea and Germany. The two logistics centres are set to be combined.

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In a statement, Schaeffler said: "The global footprint analysis focused on how best to structure the business in the UK based on various factors including economic conditions, supply and demand, and the decisions OEMs are making. It also took into account that only 15% of the goods Schaeffler produces in the UK remain in the country, while the vast majority is exported to continental Europe. The uncertainty surrounding Brexit was one factor amongst others in the analysis of the UK market."

Juergen Ziegler, regional CEO Europe at Schaeffler Group, said: "A global business needs to regularly review market conditions and strive to optimise its footprint across different regions. The proposed measures we have taken for the UK reflect this business reality. However, we remain committed to keeping certain activities in the UK, a country that will continue to be important to us.

"The changes to our UK footprint are designed to make us more efficient by relocating parts of our production closer to where our products are used. What we are planning for the UK delivers on our "Agenda 4 plus One" programme. Brexit is clearly not the single decisive factor behind our decision-making for the UK market, but the need to plan for various complex scenarios has brought forward the timing."

In 1987, LuK GmbH acquired Laycock Engineering Limited and started planning a purpose built factory in South Yorkshire. It opened on Waleswood Road, close to the M1, in 1989.

Schaeffler UK website

Images: Schaeffler / SMMT

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