Schaeffler intends to close its Llanelli plant with the loss of 220 jobs.
The German-based company said it will shut the 52-year-old plant over the next two years along with another in Plymouth employing about 300 people due to Britain’s exit from the EU and changing market conditions.
They will be shut down in the medium term, with production shifting to Germany, China, South Korea and the United States. Three other Schaeffler operations in the UK are not scheduled to close but will be reorganised.
Schaeffler, which employs 92,000 people globally with 1,000 in the UK, said the plan follows a review of its global production network which took into account future supply and demand, economic conditions, and decisions being made by automakers.
“Brexit is clearly not the single decisive factor behind our decision-making for the UK market, but the need to plan for various complex scenarios has brought forward the timing,” said Juergen Ziegler, Schaeffler’s manager responsible for Europe.
The supplier said that only 15 percent of the goods it produces in the UK remain in the country, while the vast majority is exported to continental Europe. Automakers and suppliers are concerned that if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, future exports from the UK to Europe could incur tariffs.
Llanelli has been a flagship operation for the company and £90M was invested in 2012 to install the latest coating, cold-forming and furnaces to make components used in engines built in the UK and Europe and which was, at the time, said to “secure the future of the plant for many years to come.”
Unite said it was shocked by the news and would fight to keep the plant open while local politicians said they would urge the Welsh Government to give whatever assistance it could.
As INA Bearings, the company can trace its origins to 1883 and its ball and needle roller products have been extensively used throughout industry and notably by car makers.
They are suppliers to wind generators and keep the London Eye turning.