Electronics firm Sharp has announced plans to cease production of solar panels in its facility in Wrexham, North Wales, stating ‘unavoidable market conditions’ to be the main reason.
According to the announcement made today, production at the Llay site will definitely cease in February 2014, resulting in 250 permanent workers being made redundant and further 350 agency workers not having their contracts renewed.
Company CEO Hiroshi Sasaoka said the 30 per cent drop in the unit price of European solar panels since the start of 2012 has rendered production at the Wrexham facility uncompetitive and unsustainable.
"It is with sincere regret we have decided to end solar panel production in Wrexham. Our employees are our greatest asset, and we have been fortunate to have a loyal, hard-working and committed workforce since we began solar production here in 2004,” he said, explaining Sharp will continue producing microwave ovens in the UK and will investigate additional products for development.
Coming just nine days before Christmas, the decision has been described as a hammer blow to community leaders and union officials.
"This is very worrying news for the company's employees and their families especially coming just a week before Christmas,” said Wales' Business Minister, Edwina Hart.
"Severe competition in the UK and European solar markets, combined with wider financial pressures, have forced the company to take this difficult decision. Sharp has stated its current solar operation in Wrexham is unsustainable but has told us they will be investigating additional products for development at the site,” she said, stating the Welsh Government will explore possibilities to support the site and those facing redundancy.