Soundcraft has announced the loss of 71 jobs at its factory and headquarters in Potters Bar, UK, due to "business restructuring", reports Dave Robinson. The positions - related to manufacturing of the digital (Si and Vi series) consoles - will be terminated on 31st December.
Soundcraft was quick to emphasise that this is an issue pertinent only to the UK, and should not necessarily be viewed as part of parent company Harman's recently announced plans to cut costs by $400m worldwide.
"Only manufacturing-related functions are directly affected," Soundcraft/Studer Group's VP of marketing and communications, Keith Watson, tells PSNE, "so sales, service, marketing, product management, R&D, quality and test and all group support functions like HR, finance, general administration etc remain in place in Potters Bar." Watson confirmed Soundcraft's broadcast range (including RM and B series) will continue to be manufactured at the facility. There are no reports of any changes at the Studer offices in Regensdorf, Switzerland.
"All digital consoles that will be manufactured in China next year will be delivered to the UK in standard configurations; from there they [will be] configured to each customer's specific requirements and re-tested in the Potters Bar factory," continues Watson.
Yet, making much publicity of it at the time, Harman invested around $7m in the factory in 2005, spending several million on a 40m-long Genesis SMT line alone. Is the shift to China a little hasty, perhaps? "The investment was fundamental to us being able to deliver the new digital range and has worked extremely well in that respect," responds Watson. "The facility remains and will continue to be used and is currently being reconfigured to become a 'New Product Introduction' line. This means we will be using all the same state of the art technology to prototype and accelerate new product development as we add more digital consoles to the fleet.
"We think it's important to note that this isn't a knee-jerk reaction to the market or any other factor, it is a strategic move to maintain our competitiveness and that of our distribution partners around the world, all of which were notified of this change at that time," he adds. "We have been increasing the proportion of our product line that is [made] in China for the past five years, up to this point we had produced over 80% of our volume there in a hi-tech facility certified to ISO9001 - [that 's] really an extension of our own business, our production staff are regularly there working hand-in-hand with their Chinese counterparts.
"We're focusing strongly on new product development, in fact our most recent recruit has just started in R&D this week."
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