Cookson Precious Metals Proposed Restructuring

Cookson Precious Metals (CPM) has today announced a proposed restructuring of its UK business, against a background of continued pressure in the UK jewellery market.

CPM’s UK business consists of a prime manufacturing business producing raw material, components and finished jewellery, and a distribution and logistics operation supplying these products to manufacturers, designers, independent jewellers and retailers.

The distribution and logistics business has developed very successfully in recent years and is now without equal in the UK. The manufacturing business has, however, continued to suffer from lacklustre demand in the industry overall and from low cost imports. This is despite a range of cost reduction initiatives in recent years and the transfer of certain manufacturing operations to the existing low cost facility in Mauritius.

Against this background and as a result of a significant business review, a fundamental restructuring is proposed, to be implemented on a phased basis during 2007.

This will result in the closure of CPM’s Wrexham facility, which produces chain and findings, with the manufacturing transferring to a new site in Thailand. The majority of the stampings operation, currently within the Birmingham facility, will relocate to the same Thai facility, with remaining manufactured product being realigned into new cells or supplied by CPM’s US-based manufacturing business, Stern.

In addition, the Dublin sales office will close, with the Irish market being served direct from the UK as well as through a local distributor. CPM’s operation in Hatton Garden, London, is unaffected by these changes.

These initiatives may result in the loss of approximately 80 jobs, some 16 in Wrexham and the balance in Birmingham.

Despite this proposed restructuring, CPM will retain a significant presence in the UK employing some 200 people, predominantly at its manufacturing and call centre facilities based in Birmingham’s historic jewellery quarter.

Stella Dorsett, European President of Cookson Precious Metals, said: “We very much regret the impact that these necessary initiatives will have on our employees. However, the pressure facing manufacturers in the UK are well known, and we have no option but to restructure if we are to operate profitably and provide consistently high levels of service to our jewellery customers. Cookson Precious Metals has a long history of serving the jewellery industry, and we remain fully committed to doing so. The new structure will combine continued high quality manufacturing at lower cost, together with a state of the art logistics and distribution operation run from our Birmingham-based call centre.”

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