New Zealand appliance maker to move manufacturing offshore

Other News Materials 17 April 2008 07:01 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - New Zealand's Fisher & Paykel Appliances announced Thursday that it would close factories in Dunedin, Brisbane, Australia, and California and rationalize production in Thailand, Italy and Mexico.

The move will cost about 430 jobs in New Zealand, 310 in Australia and 330 in the United States.

The company, which has been manufacturing refrigerators, washing machines and dishwashers in New Zealand for nearly 70 years, said it could not compete with low-cost labour countries like Thailand and China, after New Zealand signed free-trade agreements with them.

Managing director John Bongard also blamed high interest rates, which raised the value of the New Zealand dollar and increasingly complex and costly manufacturing compliance costs.

"All of our competitors globally are currently manufacturing in low-cost labour countries," he said.

Fisher & Paykel Appliances said it was buying a refrigerator production factory in Reynosa, Mexico, from the Whirlpool Corporation and would start manufacturing models there under its brand name in July.

Bongard said a new global manufacturing strategy involved shifting three of the company's manufacturing facilities to a combination of existing sites in Thailand and Italy and the new plant in Mexico.

Fisher & Paykel will keep 300 design engineers in New Zealand and more than 1,600 staff at a refrigeration plant and head office in Auckland.