Pittsburgh-based auxiliaries supplier Conair Group Inc. is stopping manufacturing and assembly work at its Conair Europe Ltd. plant in Wokingham, England, as part of a move to improve its competitiveness in Europe.
Work will be shifted to the United States or outsourced to subcontractors in Europe, said John Vandenbergh, Conair Europe's managing director. Much of the work involves fitting controls and giving CE safety certification to materials-handling equipment shipped from Conair's Franklin, Pa., plant.
Wokingham will concentrate on distribution, sales and service, Vandenbergh said. The British operation dates back to the mid-1980s when Conair joined forces with a local liquid temperature controls maker. At the end of 2001 Conair Europe had a total work force of 36 at the 20,000-square-foot plant.
A small number of production and assembly workers are likely to lose their jobs. Vandenbergh would not be more specific. The firm expects to stop manufacturing before June.
``We have been thinking for some time to do this. The amount of product handled at the site - mainly assembly work - has declined. There is no need to do that with the competitive nature of the business and products available to us elsewhere,'' Vandenbergh said.
``I hope that our customers will look on [the closure] as a positive move when they get better value for money in future,'' he added.
In the past year Conair has seen shipments for the European market increase by 30-35 percent, and Vandenbergh said Conair expects European sales to generate 10 percent of the company's total sales by 2006.