A German custom injection molder blames the shutdown of its Welsh molding plant on the high value of Britain's pound sterling, which it claims has driven television manufacturers out of the United Kingdom.
Ninkaplast U.K. Ltd. of Cwmfelinfach, Wales, ceased business Oct. 2, resulting in the loss of 203 jobs. The single British plant, owned by Ninkaplast GmbH of Bad Salzuflen, Germany, was molding, painting and assembling high-impact polystyrene television housings.
Its chief customers included Japanese electronics giants with plants in Britain, such as Sony, Toshiba, Hitachi and Mitsubishi. Mitsubishi closed its Scottish television factory at Haddington, Scotland, earlier in the year, according to Klaus Henning Wulf, managing director of the Ninkaplast plant.
The firm blamed the strong sterling for ``moving significant volume away from the U.K. towards central and southern Europe.
``The uncertain future of the U.K. electronics industry, the decrease of demand and molding overcapacities in South Wales have forced Ninkaplast U.K. Ltd. to go into liquidation,'' the company said.
The parent firm, whose plant has been working to capacity serving customers in Germany and central and southern Europe, had plans to establish a new plant in the Czech Republic. Those plans now are on hold, said Uwe Langhorst, sales manager of the German Ninkaplast plant.
The Welsh plant operated 16 injection presses, supplied by Battenfeld and Krauss-Maffei, with clamping forces of 50-1,250 tons, Langhorst said. Ninkaplast UK, which first set up its plant in Wales in 1988, had 1997 sales of about £15.2 million ($25.8 million).
The parent plant at Bad Salzuflen has 54 injection presses with clamping forces of 20-1,600 tons. The smallest machine is from Arburg, and the larger ones are from Krauss-Maffei and Battenfeld.
The plant molds not only TV casings but also automotive and lighting components and a range of office and kitchen furniture.
This year, the German plant took delivery of four new injection presses, two with clamping forces of 800 tons and two with clamping forces of 1,000 tons, supplied by Battenfeld, Langhorst said.
Langhorst said Sony has just set up a factory in Slovakia and already has operations in Spain, while Panasonic produces televisions in the Czech Republic.
Langhorst added that the predominantly Asian TV manufacturers have suffered badly financially as a result of the powerful economic crisis in the Far East.