Tomkins mulls more cost cuts

A major supplier of parts to the American car industry warned today it was considering more plant closures and job losses.

Tomkins, which was founded in 1925 as a small British manufacturer of buckles and fasteners, said it had initiated further extensive restructuring after market conditions deteriorated throughout 2008.

It is looking at closing 15 plants, including four in Europe, in a move which could affect around 2,500 employees. A previous restructuring scheme launched in February of last year saw a total of eight facilities closed and headcount reduced by around 3,500 people, mainly in North America.

The bulk of the Tomkins' 30,000-strong workforce is in North America with some 4,000 employees in Europe, including at a manufacturing site at Dumfries. The company's industrial and automotive arm makes drive belts, hydraulics systems and windscreen wipers, while its building products division manufactures air handling components, bathtubs and whirlpool baths, and doors and windows.

Chief executive James Nicol said the latest restructuring plan, called Project Cheetah, would look to focus manufacturing in lower cost locations and take advantage of trading opportunities in higher growth regions.

The latest moves emerged as Tomkins reported pre-tax losses of $7.6m (£5.2m) for 2008, against pre-tax profits of $525.4m a year earlier.

Sales were down 6 per cent to $5.51bn (£3.8bn), driven by disposals and reduced volumes in most of the group's end markets. Operating profits before restructuring costs and balance sheet write-downs fell 24 per cent to $403.4m (£278.2m).

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