Meyer Burger closes German factory

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From pv magazine Germany.

Meyer Burger Technology AG plans to end production at its Zülpich site in Germany by the middle of next year.

The Swiss company has been producing optical measuring and testing technology at the location under its Hennecke brand but plans to produce them at its main German site in Hohenstein-Ernstthal in future, the company announced in a press release.

Around 60 employees affected by closure of the Zülpich facility will be offered help by Meyer Burger under its obligations as an employer, the company confirmed.

The Swiss company expects restructuring costs of around CHF7 million (€6.42 million) will result from the closure and be accounted for in this year’s figures, with CHF3 million of that figure expected to affect cashflow next year.

Tough decision

“We are proud of our market-leading wafer inspection product and will continue to offer it to … customers,” said Meyer Burger CEO Hans Brändle. “However, volumes and margins have fallen sharply in recent months.” The chief executive added, the decision to close had not been an easy one for the company.

“However, Meyer Burger had to take this decisive step as part of the planned adjustment of the business model and as a result of the unattractive margins in the PV standard business, especially in the Chinese market, and after examining various strategic options. Further consolidating our production capacities in Hohenstein-Ernstthal allows us to continue to increase efficiency and strengthen our competitiveness,” said Brändle.

Cost-cutting

The solar equipment manufacturer has been forced to take a range of cost-cutting measures recently after reversing a decision to focus on ultra-low-margin Far Eastern markets in favor of supplying its production lines to high-end European solar manufacturers.

In an eventful October, Meyer Burger sold off its corporate headquarters in Gwatt, Thun, for a net CHF19 million plus a further CHF11.5 million over five years, sold digital software and internet-of-things subsidiary AIS Automation Dresden GmbH for CHF14 million and fought off a bid for boardroom representation made by rebel shareholder Sentis Capital.