Merone (Italy) - a Group company of "Holderbank" Financière Glaris Ltd. ("Holderbank") - is to launch a large-scale efficiency drive in the year 2000.
In response to market conditions, efforts will focus on concentrating cement production at three sites in Lombardy (Merone and Ternate) and Piedmont (Morano Po). The technologically outdated Cassago plant near Lecco and the small grinding stations in Fusine (Sondrio) and Paladina (Bergamo) will be closed and the Morano Po facility will in future operate as a grinding station and distribution terminal. Around 180 jobs will be affected by the announced measures. Negotiations will commence as soon as possible with employee representatives and unions.
Cement consumption has been sluggish in Northern Italy for years, and with no improvement in sight the steps envisaged are inevitable. The situation is worsened by unsatisfactory cement prices and excess capacity in the market. Merone is confident that in adopting a forward-looking approach, the company will become more competitive and profitable. After restructuring, clinker capacity utilization is expected to increase from the current disappointing 60 percent to more than 80 percent.
Merone is the fifth largest cement manufacturer in Italy. In 1998, the 100 percent "Holderbank"-controlled Group company posted a loss of CHF 36.9 million on sales of CHF 283.6 million. Merone presently has a workforce of approximately 700.
With majority and minority interests in over 60 countries on all continents, "Holderbank" is one of the world's leading suppliers of cement, as well as aggregates (gravel and sand), concrete and construction-related services.