December 1, 2008 - Bekaert reorganizes steel wire activities in Belgium

Intention to close production facility in Hemiksem

Kortrijk, 12 December 2008 – During an extraordinary works council meeting, the management of Bekaert informed its Belgian plants of the plan to reorganize the production activities for steel wire in Belgium. The proposed action plan includes the intention to close the production plant in Hemiksem. The intended closure affects 264 employees.

The Hemiksem plant specializes in the production of steel wire for various industrial applications. Bekaert has observed a structural downward movement in the market for these product lines in Western Europe. Aggressive competition, mainly from Central Europe and Asia, is putting continuous pressure on sales prices. In addition, exports to non-European countries have practically ceased as a result of the strong euro and the expansion of local capacity in export markets.

Bekaert clients are also experiencing an increase in competition due to imports from low-wage countries. In order to maintain their competitive position, they are increasingly moving their activities to Central Europe, where they prefer locally-based suppliers, causing a strong decrease in demand in Western Europe. The company is particularly confronted with overcapacity in the market for galvanized low-carbon wire.
These external developments are having an increasingly strong impact on the profitability of Bekaert Hemiksem and on the competitive position of Bekaert in the European market, calling for a reorganization of the production platform in Belgium.

Management regrets the need to propose this measure, but sees no other option to safeguard the long-term position of its wire activities in Europe. As the law provides, the first stage of consultations with employee representatives will commence immediately, resulting in negotiations on the agreement of a social plan.
As a result of the intended reorganization, the production of steel wire in Belgium will be concentrated in the Zwevegem plant, which will continue to focus on the high-end spectrum of the product range. Download press release to read more