Increasing competition from Asia blamed for decision to close Llanelli plant

Avon Inflatables is closing its manufacturing plant in Llanelli, Wales, with the loss of 57 jobs.

The RIB maker, which is owned by Zodiac Marine & Pool (ZMP), said the first redundancies would be made in December this year and the factory closed completely by December 2010.

The move is part of a wider restructuring by ZMP that will also see plants in Spain and France close.

Avon manufacturing will move to a new site in Tunisia and to existing plants in France and Spain, Avon said. The 11-strong Avon sales and marketing team will not be affected by the “reorganisation”.

ZMP, whose subsidiaries also build Zodiac and Bombard RIBs for the leisure sector as well as boats for military use, said its decision to close the Avon plant was due to increasing pressure from Asian countries.

“The resulting severe downward trend in prices has led to decreasing volumes and a reduction in sales [across ZMP’s marine portfolio] between 2005 and 2007 of about 15%,” a statement from the French company said.

“Under current market conditions, continuing erosion of the company’s market share would lead to a ?10m reduction in sales by 2010. This would further aggravate the overcapacity situation and cause further deterioration in the sector’s operating performance, which has shown an operating loss of ?4.5m.”

Meanshile, joint managing director of Avon Inflatables, Alan Morgan, said: “The urgency of the turnaround of our competitiveness made this reorganisation project compulsory. ZMP is well aware of its responsibility towards each affected employee and here at Llanelli we will be actively working with each individual to support them.”