Sanyo UK closes Lowestoft TV factory

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, company bosses announced last night.

At its height of production, at least 350 workers produced some 500,000 televisions a year, but the current economic crisis has dealt a fatal blow to the company's fortunes.

The news was greeted with dismay yesterday, with a union leader describing it as a "sad day" for Lowestoft, and the area's MP announcing he would be meeting with Sanyo's boss today to see if there were any last-ditch hopes of saving the factory.


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Sanyo announced drastic measures to revive its flagging fortunes at the end 2006, moving away from making domestic television sets to the production of large-screen public information monitors.

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.

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A statement from 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.

"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."

Sanyo's large-screen monitors have been used primarily by the advertising industry in locations such as shopping centres, sports' venues and airports.

"Unfortunately, for the last 18 months, there has been a consider-able slowdown in demand due to the increasing financial restriction, which in the last 12 months has also affected the consumer retail markets," added Mr Salmon.

Japanese-owned Sanyo launched its hi-tech Lowestoft operation in 1982 after buying the former Pye factory from Philips and had enjoyed periods of strong growth in a competitive market.

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

"The company is extremely proud of its staff, who by their hard work and dedication have produced products with a worldwide reputation for excellence and reliability," said Mr Salmon.

Waveney MP Bob Blizzard said: "It is very, very disappointing and bad news for the staff affected. It seems that the company is a victim of the credit crunch.

"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.

"It's the end of an era because the company used to be a large volume manufacturer."

Mark Robinson, regional officer for the Unite union, said: "It is a sad day for Lowestoft. Sanyo has a long and proud history of making televisions on that site.

"It shows the difficult market conditions in recent times. 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."

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