North East Wales

Hundreds of jobs at Sharp to be cut firm announces

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Media captionThe firm said it was stopping production of solar panels at its Llay factory

Electronics giant Sharp is ceasing solar panel production at its Wrexham factory with the loss of hundreds of jobs.

Sharp said it was cutting 250 posts and was not renewing agency workers' contracts - thought to be about 365.

The company said the decision affecting its Llay factory was "unavoidable" given trading conditions which "left Wrexham's output uncompetitive".

The plant is due to end its solar panel production in February.

Sharp said its European solar business was being transformed to ensure "regeneration and long-term growth".

In a statement, Sharp boss Hiroshi Sasaoka said the decision was difficult to make.

"It is with sincere regret that we have decided to end solar panel production in Wrexham," he said.

"Our employees are our greatest asset, and we have been fortunate to have a loyal, hardworking and committed workforce since we began solar production here in 2004.

"The Wrexham facility will continue to produce microwave ovens, and we will be investigating additional products for development."

The Sharp factory opened in 1984 producing video recorders and microwave ovens.

In 2004, it began manufacturing solar panels for both residential and commercial installations.

'Difficult decision'

The Welsh government has said it will support those who are facing redundancy.

Economy Minister Edwina Hart said: "This announcement is obviously very worrying news for the company's employees and their families, especially coming just a week before Christmas.

"Welsh government officials will be exploring all potential options to support the site and in the meantime we and our partners will do all we can to support those who are facing redundancy."

Shadow Business Minister Nick Ramsay AM said the news would be a "devastating blow" for all those affected.

Local Assembly Member, Lesley Griffiths, said: "Although microwave production at the Sharp plant in Wrexham will continue, safeguarding around 150 jobs, it is deeply regrettable such a significant proportion of an innovative, experienced business is to cease operation."

Plaid Cymru AM for North Wales, Llyr Gruffydd, said: "The Welsh government has to work with Sharp to see whether they can develop alternative lines here.

"This news comes hot on the heels of First Milk's announcement that 250 jobs will go in the area."

Wrexham council leader councillor Neil Rogers said: "This is obviously very disappointing news particularly for those staff who have lost their jobs."

MP Ian Lucas said the loss of the jobs was a "hammer blow" to the town.

Unite union regional officer Peter Hughes said it would be starting talks with the company at the factory from Tuesday.

"This will leave only 140 people left on the site and that's a real worry as well," he said.

"This is a hell of a blow, especially so close to Christmas."

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