Suffolk TV factory to close

THE last major TV manufacturer in the UK is set to shut down its base in Lowestoft after failing to arrest a sharp fall in demand for its products.Sanyo UK is proposing to stop work at its School Road factory by the end of next month with the loss of 60 jobs, company bosses announced last night.

THE last major TV manufacturer in the UK is set to shut down its base in Lowestoft after failing to arrest a sharp fall in demand for its products.

Sanyo UK is proposing to stop work at its School Road factory by the end of next month with the loss of 60 jobs.

At its height of production, more than 350 workers produced some 500,000 televisions a year, but the current economic crisis has dealt a final blow to the plant's fortunes which have been in decline for some years.

Japanese-owned Sanyo launched its hi-tech Lowestoft operation in 1982 after buying the former Pye factory from Philips. In 2006, the plant switched from making domestic television sets to the production of large-screen monitors, used primarily by the advertising industry at locations such as shopping centres, sports venues and airports.

However, demand has dropped during the past 18 months and the company said it had been forced to propose the closure of its Lowestoft factory as a last resort.

Sanyo Industries UK vice-president Noel Salmon said: “The current economic situation and price competitiveness have resulted in insufficient orders for the company to remain viable, despite major investment on both product and manufacturing technology.

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“The introduction of LCD television imports, primarily from China, Turkey and eastern Europe, created price down pressure on UK and other European Union manufacturers. Most have now closed and transferred their manufacturing to countries with low-wage economies.

“There appears to be no realistic prospect of an upturn in commercial business for at least the next two years.”

Mr Salmon added that discussions with employees about the proposed closure had started and that efforts would be made to help them find new employment.

Waveney MP Bob Blizzard said: “I will be meeting with Noel Salmon to see if there is anything that can be done, but the situation doesn't seem very good and it may well be the emphasis has to be more on getting Jobcentre Plus staff involved to give support to people to get new jobs.”

Mark Robinson, regional officer for the Unite union, added: “We will work with the company to see what can be done to mitigate the job losses and find people alternative employment where we can.”