Baby-care products maker Jackel International Ltd. plans to shift most of the plastics molding at its plant in Cramlington, England, to the firm's Chinese production facility, cutting 98 United Kingdom jobs.
Cramlington-based Jackel, which produces Tommee Tippee- and Maws-brand feeding cups, soothers and bottles, has about 20 injection presses with 55-440 tons of clamping force at the British site, as well as several bottle blow molding lines.
The firm expects to move 16 presses to its facility in Dong Guan, China. Two other machines will shift to a Mansfield, England, plant run by Jackel sister company Sangenic International Ltd., according to the firms' parent, Mayborn Group plc.
Two Automa blow molding machines at Cramlington probably will be sold, said Ian Hartley, finance director of London-based Mayborn.
Jackel said the presses remaining at Cramlington will make a new product, Easiflow valveless cups.
Mayborn blamed increased competition for the relocation.
``This will ensure that [Mayborn's] baby division is best placed to deliver sustainable growth on a competitive, profitable basis, capitalizing on the continuing strength of its brands,'' said Mayborn Managing Director Michael Samuel.
The General, Municipal and Boilermakers Union, which represents 90 workers facing layoff, said it was surprised by the layoff announcement and angry that the company failed to consult employees earlier.
Two years ago the company cut 200 jobs in Cramlington when it first shifted work to China. The Dong Guan plant now has five Nissei blow molding machines and about 20 injection presses.
``This came as an absolute shock to our members. The work force bent over backwards to implement more flexibility in the production. We were led to believe there would be some job security there after that,'' said Mark Wilson, a union official who handles the Northumberland region. ``We would like to have been consulted at the earliest possible time about this if the company was having difficulty, to try to get help to keep the jobs.''
Wilson said the remaining 25 shop-floor jobs may be in jeopardy within the next year, when a government grant aimed at preserving local jobs expires. Hartley denied there are plans to shut down the plant altogether. The site also houses research and development for Jackel and Sangenic.
Mayborn's baby products division saw its operating profit rise 11 percent in 2001 to £2.4 million ($3.79 million) on annual sales of £40 million ($63.2 million). Mayborn credited the profit to cost savings from shifting work to China.