Page last updated at 11:44 GMT, Friday, 15 August 2008 12:44 UK

Copper wire factory due to close


135 jobs go as copper factory closes

A copper wire factory in Llanelli is to close with the loss of 135 jobs.

The Dutch owners of the Draka copper facility in the Carmarthenshire town say the business will be "consolidated" with its other European operations.

It says the sales arm of its operation in Llanelli will also be transferred to its UK headquarters in Derby.

Bosses are blaming high transport costs for the decision, but say they hope to offer jobs at its other plants to the workforce.

The company has confirmed that it is now in a three-month consultation period with unions over when production will stop in Llanelli.

Michael Bosman, the director of investor relations at Draka said: "We can't rule out anything - we are doing our best.

It is sad because staff have made such a huge effort to keep production costs effective
Helen Mary Jones, AM

"Of course it is a very harsh measure but we are doing our best to maintain as many jobs as possible."

The site at Llanelli produces copper wire for the company's operations across Europe.

But the firm said it was no longer financially viable to import the raw copper rods into the UK, which are then turned into the wire.

"We have to buy the rods from the continent, and ship it to the UK, draw wire from it, and then ship it back to our factories in Europe," Mr Bosman said.

"So that means the cost has increased quite tremendously in the last two years, and economically it is not wise to maintain this production site."

Annual turnover

The company's copper wire divisions supply more than 50,000 tonnes of the product a year, across 15 European countries and Russia.

Across Europe, the firm has a workforce of 9,000 people, with an annual turnover of 1.6 billion. It announced the closure of a Spanish plant with the loss of 100 jobs in April.

Draka said it hoped some of the Llanelli staff could be transferred to its Derby cable operations, which will now increase its copper wire production.

Mr Bosman added: "Also on the continent, in Europe, we will increase the copper wire drawing production and they will also get an opportunity to move to the continent, if they want."

Plaid Cymru Llanelli AM Helen Mary Jones described the closure as "extremely disappointing" news. She said she would contact the assembly government to see what support it could offer the company.

Huge effort

She said: "This is yet another example of the present competitive environment in the manufacturing industry.

"It is sad because staff have made such a huge effort to keep production costs effective."

Amicus regional secretary Carl Lucas said he would be meeting his members at the Draka plant on Friday afternoon.

"We recognise the company has been struggling for some years to make a profit in difficult trading conditions," said Mr Lucas, who represents about 12 workers at the factory.

"We will be trying to save some work at Llanelli but until we have a chance to study their full trading position it is difficult to say at this stage where we will be going."

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