Sharp on Llay Industrial Estate are intending to stop production of solar panels in February. This will potentially mean around 250 job losses plus around 365 agency staff.
Update 2:11pm We have been passed a copy of the statement released by Sharp, copied below, with local MP Ian Lucas tweeting a figure of 615 job losses. It is believed that 140 staff will remain employed at the Llay site working on non-solar products with todays news seeing a 65% cut in the workforce.
A hammer blow for @wrexham : 615 solar jobs to go as Sharp ends UK solar production. Very sad for loyal workforce.
— Ian Lucas (@IanCLucas) December 16, 2013
“The planned closure by the end of February 2014 will result in redundancies for up to 250 Sharp employees, and non-renewal of related agency worker contracts. The decision comes as part of structural reforms in line with the Corporation’s Medium-Term Management Plan announced in May 2013, which have been accelerated by the rapid commoditization of the UK and European solar panel markets.”
“Sharp CEO for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Hiroshi Sasaoka said the decision to close the solar manufacturing facility was difficult to make, but unavoidable in the current business conditions.”
“It is with sincere regret that we have decided to end solar panel production in Wrexham. Our employees are our greatest asset, and we have been fortunate to have a loyal, hardworking and committed workforce since we began solar production here in 2004,” Mr Sasaoka said.
“The Wrexham facility will continue to produce microwave ovens, and we will be investigating additional products for development. A 30% drop in the unit price of European solar panels since the beginning of 2012 has left Wrexham’s output uncompetitive here in the UK, and in Europe.”
“In line with the Corporation’s shift in its solar business strategy towards Sharp’s domestic market, the majority of panels produced at the plant during 2013 have been sold in Japan. From 2014, production for the Japanese market will be outsourced. This means maintaining capacity of Wrexham’s solar production is, regrettably, unsustainable.”
Update 2pm: The BBC are reporting the news, with details from the ‘boss’ of Sharp confirming the 250 job losses. Wrexham Council have issued a statement that reads:
Cllr Neil Rogers, Leader of Wrexham Council, said “This is obviously very disappointing news particularly for those staff who have lost their jobs. However, Sharp has informed us that they will maintain their microwave production. We look forward to maintaining a strong relationship with Sharp and are grateful for the very personal way in which they shared this news with us.”
Wrexham.com readers have been in touch to say that staff were formally told of the news and received their notice this morning.
Original story below…
A few months back in September Sharp confirmed its commitment to the European solar market saying that the Llay factory was running near capacity, and 500 people were employed on the site. On Thursday we heard that it was locally rumored that the factory was to cease certain operations. Formal clarification is due at 3pm today, with it expected to be announced that the solar elements of production will cease. We are told some manufacturing will continue on the site.
We have been unable to contact Sharp for further detail.
Wrexham’s factory opened in 1984 and started with the production of video recorders and microwave ovens. Since 2004 it has been manufacturing solar modules, replacing the video recorder production. Of all Sharp’s solar module manufacturing plants around the world, Wrexham is one of the most technically advanced. Today it assembles highly advanced monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar modules for use in both residential and commercial installations.
In November 2011 we reported about concerns about the future of the factory, however had brighter news in June 2012 with 3000 solar panels being installed locally with Sharp providing specialist skills. Also in June 2012 Sharp announced they were to make Wrexham a ‘Solar Headquarters’.