UK - Global automotive supplier Schaeffler has announced the closure of two plants. The first is located in Llanelli, Wales, and houses the production of mechanical tappets and bearings for car makers. The other is in Plymouth, England, where spindle bearings and machine parts for the company’s industrial division are made, as well as other bearings for the aerospace and defence industries.

“A global business needs to regularly review market conditions and strive to optimise its footprint across different regions. The proposed measures we have taken for the UK reflect this business reality. However, we remain committed to keeping certain activities in the UK, a country that will continue to be important to us,” remarked Juergen Ziegler, Schaeffler’s regional CEO Europe.

As well as the two plants, a logistics centre in Sutton Coldfield will be closed, with ‘the majority’ of the employees being relocated to a leased office nearby. However, the company’s third and largest plant in the UK, which is located in Sheffield, will remain open. This is used to produce clutches for both passenger cars and tractors.

According to the supplier, one of the reasons behind the closures is the uncertainty created by Brexit. Several car makers with facilities in the UK have stated that recent closures have been made due to the impending impact of Brexit on sales and demand, such as Ford and Jaguar Land Rover. “Brexit is clearly not the single decisive factor behind our decision-making for the UK market, but the need to plan for various complex scenarios has brought forward the timing,” Ziegler stated.

However, he also emphasised the fact that the company is generally looking to be more efficient “by relocating parts of our production closer to where our products are used.” Just 15% of the parts Schaeffler makes in the UK are used in the local market, while 85% are exported.