Fifty jobs to go as Pavatex closes production

The Pavatex company, which manufactures wood fibre insulating material, has announced it is to cease production at its plant in Cham, leading to 50 jobs being lost.

The company, which is headquartered in Fribourg, announced it would be closing this plant within the first quarter of 2019 on account of the fall in sales of its products in neighbouring European countries and increasing raw material and energy prices.

As the company further announced, the obligatory consultation period relating to the closure of the plants started on Monday. Only after this is complete will the definitive decision be made.

In a press statement, Christoph Feist, the CEO, said the company very much regretted having to take this step, not least because of the employees affected, of course. “Despite years of uncertainty, our staff has put in a great deal of effort at our Swiss production site. Naturally we are working on a social plan to help them,” he said, and mentioned the possibility of their being employed in the company’s bitumen plant in Spreitenbach in the canton of Argovia.

Feist went on to say that since the Soprama Group had taken over Pavatex in 2016, much had been invested at the Cham plant, with sales in Switzerland increasing, not least as it emphasised how their products were Swiss made. At the same time, endeavours were made to reduce fixed costs by millions, but none of this helped in the end. It was also mentioned that overcapacity in Switzerland had led to very low prices and that competition from Germany was very strong. There had also been times when production had been temporarily halted before, costing the company just under CHF 500,000 per week.   

It was hoped, however, that the sales, advisory and distribution services would continue as normal with Feist assuring Swiss customers that they would still be able to be supplied with high quality wood fibre insulating products from another plant belonging to the Strasbourg-based Soprema Group.

The mayor of Cham, Georges Helfenstein, only found out about the planned closure on Tuesday morning and was very shocked, bearing in mind the investment made in the company two years ago.

While he said he could understand the situation from an economic point of view, recognising the pressure the construction industry was under, he thought more long-term planning would have helped. He looks to a supporting plan and offered any help the council might be able give.

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