Lightbulb maker to cut 4,500 jobs

CONSUMER and healthcare goods maker Philips is set to shed 4,500 jobs globally after its profits nearly halved during the summer.

Philips, which has a Philips Avent baby products plant in Glemsford, and a healthcare products research site in Cambridge Science Park, says it doesn’t know yet which of its centres around the world, which employ a total of 116,000 people, will be affected.

The firm, which makes everything from lightbulbs to TVs, employs around 2,200 staff across the UK and has its UK head office in Guildford in Surrey. It is seeking to save around �700million.

“Unfortunately, at the moment, we don’t have anything further to say. At the moment, internationally, we are looking at 4,500 positions being lost with 1,400 of these in our headquarters in the Netherlands,” a spokeswoman said. “We don’t have any breakdown as yet.”

The firm’s underlying profits fell by 76% to �323million in the third quarter of 2011, while revenues were down 1% to �4.7billion as consumers rein in spending on items such as blenders, shavers and lighting.

“Beyond this global number and the Netherlands job losses we do not have information about the impact in other countries at this stage,” the spokeswoman said.

“What I would say is that Philips operates sales and services in over 100 markets, so this is not a UK-specific issue.”

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Chief executive Frans van Houten said the job losses were “a regrettable but inevitable step to improve our operating model to become more agile, lean and competitive”.

Its other centres in the UK include a lighting factory at Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, and a respiratory equipment plant in Chichester, West Sussex. Healthcare products sales were flat but would have been up 7% without the impact of currency fluctuations.