The European arm of Collins & Aikman Corp.'s automotive part-molding empire already has felt the impact of plant and workforce cutbacks, imposed since the U.S. parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.
Nearly 200 jobs have been axed and four C&A production units in the Netherlands and Britain have closed or are being wound down since administrators took control of the company's European operations in July, said a spokeswoman for Collins & Aikman European Group.
C&A sites closed include the British seat-covering facilities at Walkden and Carlisle, where 75 jobs have been lost; an interiors plant at Deurne, the Netherlands, with 16 redundancies and C&A's loss-making unit at Redditch, England, where production still is being wound down.
Part of the Redditch business has been bought by another British company, Automotive Interiors Ltd., with 42 jobs from the original C&A workforce saved. Fifteen more employees have switched to other C&A United Kingdom facilities and another 15 have left the firm voluntarily, leaving 78 redundancies, according to the C&A spokeswoman in London.
Two other British molding plants, the acoustic products facility in St. Neots, England, and another vehicle interior moldings facility in Stourport-on-Severn, England, saw redundancies already ordered by C&A prior to its July entry into administration.
At Stourport-on-Severn, 50 jobs went and the St. Neots unit shed 10, she reported.
Meantime, joint administrators Simon Appell and Alastair Beveridge from Kroll's Corporate Advisory & Restructuring Group, appointed by England's High Court in July 2005 to take over the C&A companies, revealed they are close to selling group operations in the region.
They announced in a statement that they are ``reviewing revised bids'' received from potential financial and industry buyers.
``Some are interested in the entire European group, and others in a smaller subset or individual plants. At this stage we cannot provide further information on the specifics of each site,'' the administrators added.
But a sale may not come until after the end of October, when Kroll's administrators originally expected to find a buyer.
Collins & Aikman European Group employs around 4,000 and operates 24 plants in nine countries.
It produces vehicle interior components and trim at facilities in the United Kingdom, Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.
Its customers include major world automotive manufacturers such as Fiat, Daimler Chrysler AG, Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp., Honda Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co., Toyota SA and Volkswagen AG.
One firm with an interest in acquiring part of the auto parts giant's European operations that has entered the bidding is New York-based turnaround specialist W. L. Ross & Co. LLC. The private equity firm also has joined with U.S. interior supplier Lear Corp. of Southfield, Mich., in a separate bid to purchase Troy, Mich.-based Collins & Aikman Corp.'s U.S. operations.
Prior to entering Chapter 11 in the United States and administration in Europe, Collins & Aikman experienced difficulties as a result of a very competitive automotive market and faces ever-increasing price pressures as well as increases in the costs of materials and capital expenditure costs.
It was back in May that the U.S. operations of Collins & Aikman filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.