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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 June, 2005, 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK
Sony sheds 650 jobs with closure

The electronics giant Sony is to close its south Wales manufacturing plant with the loss of 650 jobs because of falling sales of traditional-style TVs.

A total of 400 will go at its main factory in Bridgend, by March 2006. Another 250 will be lost at the Pencoed assembly plant, leaving 300 jobs.

The Japanese firm blamed the growth in demand for flat-screen televisions.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said he would put in a place a support package for those affected by the "tragic loss".

In another blow for Bridgend, it also emerged on Wednesday that 173 jobs will go at the Wrigley's Sweet factory.

Sony had already announced 300 job losses at the south Wales plants in January.

In a statement on Wednesday, the company said the decision had been made "with regret" and despite "excellent performance" at the two plants. "The demand for CRT-based televisions within the UK and Europe has fallen significantly and the transition to flat TVs has been much quicker than we first expected," it read.

SONY IN WALES
Plasma TVs on display at an electronics show  in January
Sony production started in Bridgend in 1974; the Pencoed plant opened in 1992.
At one time the plants employed more than 4,000
In Oct 2000, 400 job losses were announced - with the strong pound and competition blamed. More followed in recent years.
The Queen on a visit praised the firm's "commendable commitment" to the workforce
At one time, 60 Japanese firms employed 20,000 people in Wales

During Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons, Tony Blair told Ogmore MP Huw Irranca-Davies that he was sorry about the losses and promised the UK Government would develop a package to help those who are made redundant.

"It is our responsibility to put in place a proper package of support and help," he told MPs.

Mr Blair offered to meet Mr Irranca-Davies, who said the news was a "great disappointment".

"The extremely loyal workforce at Sony have known for some time that the market for the older technology TVs was in rapid decline, but they and I had hoped - following previous meetings with Sony - that the emerging markets in Eastern Europe would help sustain production in Wales for quite some time," the MP said.

Bridgend Council is to set up a response team and described the announcement "a very sad one for Bridgend and for south Wales generally".

I am also conscious that the job reductions will have an impact on the local economy
Economic Development Minister Andrew Davies

In its heyday, the plants employed more than 4,000 people, but this number had dwindled to around 900 before Wednesday's announcement.

Sony acquired the plant in 1973 and began production a year later.

Welsh Minister for Economic Development Andrew Davies said as well as heading a rapid response team, politicians would work closely with the firm "at the highest levels" to develop further opportunities for the Pencoed site.

"I am also conscious that the job reductions will have an impact on the local economy. We will, again with our Team Wales partners, consider what might be done to reduce this impact.

"I can confirm that WEFO (Welsh European Funding Office) will bring forward immediately for appraisal the proposed development of Bridgend Town Centre which was originally submitted for Objective 1 funding.

'Sony's big influence'

"Bridgend was the next project on the reserve list for town centre redevelopment and WEFO has confirmed that sufficient funds are now available to bring it forward."

A major employer in the area, shoppers in Bridgend on Wednesday spoke of their shock at the announcement of jobs losses.

Roma Murphy said: "It's obviously going to affect a lot of people because Sony's got a big influence in the area.

George Davies added: "It will affect everything, the shopping, everybody."

But Robert Evans was not convinced the cuts would be so bad. He said: "When it's only 650 jobs, it won't make much difference. They will get soaked up by other places."

  • The US-based confectionary firm Wrigley, which bought the former Kraft factory in May 2005, said it planned to close the site in the next six to nine months.




  • SEE ALSO:
    Sony sheds 300 factory jobs
    20 Jan 05 |  Wales
    Wales avoids Sony job losses
    28 Oct 03 |  Business
    Sony denies plasma TV withdrawal
    20 Dec 04 |  Business


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