Eastman Chemical Co. said it plans to cut 120-150 jobs at its Voridian resin plant in Columbia, S.C., and 120-150 corporate positions in Kingsport; and close a plant in Hartlepool, England, eliminating 75 jobs there.
The Columbia plant currently employs 600 and is Voridian's largest PET site, according to company spokesman Fletcher Dean. The site's resin capacity will not be affected by the cuts, he added. Voridian does not disclose individual plant capacities.
Voluntary retirement will be offered to Voridian employees until May 19. The remainder of the cuts will occur by the end of the year, Dean said.
Production already has ceased at the Hartlepool facility. Eastman said the move will boost production efficiency in the copolyester market. That plant served markets mainly in France, Germany, Italy and Britain.
The company said it will shift most of the Hartlepool production to its Kingsport headquarters site, where it will downsize its corporate staff. Some production also will go to its plant in Kuantan, Malaysia.
Eastman is the world's largest PET maker. The firm lost $270 million in 2003, even though its sales were up to $5.8 billion, a 9 percent increase compared with the previous year. Voridian, which also produces low density polyethylene and acetate fibers, generated more than 40 percent of Eastman's total sales last year.