The Slovenia Times

Italian group Safilo to close Ormož plant


Ormož - The Italian group Safilo announced on Thursday that it intends to shut down its eyewear production plant in Ormož in the north-east of Slovenia in June to adjust production capacities to meet changing demand. A total of 557 workers will lose their jobs, the group added.

The decision is in line with the group's strategy and comes after Safilo already closed two plants in Italy.

The Covid crisis has further aggravated the situation that had been already challenging prior to the pandemic due to termination of contracts with major brands and rising demand for acetate products, said the group, adding that it would take years to tackle current structural imbalances.

The planned closure in Ormož is also in line with the group's targets regarding business optimization and efforts to boost production efficiency, Safilo said, adding that the company had started talks with the trade union and relevant institutions to mitigate the social impact of the closure.

However, the Skei Štajerska trade union told the STA that the step came as a surprise as it knew nothing of the planned closure and had not been informed of it so far. Its head Martin Dular said that the company's in-house trade union representative had merely informed him of enhanced security so far.

Responding to the developments, the head of the Ptuj Employment Service unit Tomaž Žirovnik said that the unit had not been formally notified of Safilo's decision. He noted that the plant had seen ups and downs, adding that during the most optimal period it employed up to 1,200 workers.

"This will be quite a big problem for our region even though we're talking about profiles that can find work in these times. The plant employs quite a number of older workers and disabled workers as well though," Žirovnik told the STA.

Ormož Mayor Danijel Vrbnjak was also taken aback, saying he was surprised the company had not informed him of the closure since the management had been in contact with him to arrange a meeting on a different issue. Vrbnjak also told the STA he was on his way to the company to get explanations.

The closure will lead to a social catastrophe as Safilo employs by far the greatest number of people in the municipality, the mayor said, adding that he would notify Prime Minister Janez Janša of the developments and invite him to Ormož to discuss solutions.

There is no information about the 2020 business results of the Ormož-based plant, however the 2019 results were above expectations. The company generated more than EUR 32 million in revenue, up by EUR 2.5 million on 2018 and almost EUR 7 million above the expected figure. In 2018, profit totalled EUR 1.25 million, whereas in 2019, it dropped to EUR 800,000.

At the start of the epidemic, the company did not respond to the STA's query on any potential major layoffs. The Ptuj Employment Service unit said in April 2020 that apart from not prolonging contracts with a number of workers on fixed-term contracts, the company had not announced any major downsizing.


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