Page last updated at 15:12 GMT, Wednesday, 22 April 2009 16:12 UK

Fears for 200 jobs at gas factory

Air Products factory, Acrefair
The plant has operated at Acrefair for almost 60 years

Up to 200 jobs are under threat after a company which makes gas-related products announced plans to close a factory near Wrexham.

Air Products in Acrefair said it was in response to changing demand and what it called "difficult, changing times".

Staff at the plant, which opened in 1950, will be consulted in the coming weeks, the company said.

Air Products supplies home oxygen to patients, but that side of the business is unaffected.

The Acrefair plant employs 140 craftsmen and 50 in management and administration.

Laurence O'Donnell, general manager at Acrefair, said: "I am very sad to confirm that today we informed our employees that we are considering a proposal to close our manufacturing facility in Acrefair, north Wales.

"Regrettably, this is a very difficult time for our people and their welfare is an important concern for us.

'Changing demand'

"We are committed to listening to their views about the proposal in the coming weeks.

"We have to review this proposal in response to the changing demand for our manufacturing products, which is shifting to other parts of the world, notably Asia, and intensified by the challenging economic environment.

"This situation we find ourselves in is very difficult but like many companies we are forced to consider every possible option to remain competitive during these difficult, changing times."

The company supplies gas and related equipment to a wide range of industries.

It describes itself as the UK's leading provider of home oxygen, serving more than 50,000 patients, but its healthcare services would not be affected by the proposals.

Other areas include gases for balloons, rubber and plastic materials, as well as petrochemicals and refining.

The proposals only affect the Acrefair plant, which manufactures and exports industrial gases and equipment around the world.

Its products include equipment for air separation, natural gas liquefaction and hydrogen purification.

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