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Under-threat factory posts a £1m profit

Consultation is still underway at Congleton’s Airbags factory over its proposed closure, its annual report has said.

Airbags International, in its latest annual report, said that – as we have reported – parent company Autoliv announced last year that it was “accelerating its global cost reduction programme”, and this included a “substantial reduction” in its workforce to support the group’s medium- and long-term financial targets.

As a result of this programme, on 13th July 2023, Autoliv announced that it was evaluating the possible closure of its textile weaving facility in Congleton, which employs 215 people, with the aim to relocate production by the end of 2025.

Said the report: “The directors are working with Autoliv group management to assist in the evaluation process.

“They have also commenced consultations with elected representatives regarding the potential closure, including staff and trade unions.”

The report added: “As a result of this evaluation, the medium- to long-term future of the company is uncertain.”

As its name suggests, Airbags designs, develops and manufactures airbags for automotive personnel safety systems.

The company reported turnover of £67m and an operating profit of £1m.

The report said the year had seen a return to normal activity with covid having only marginal impacts, mainly felt as supply chain capacity and disruption problems.

However, the effect of Brexit has resulted in raw material supply delays and export documentation requirements at “a more onerous level” than before.

As in the previous year there were some additional restrictions on hiring non-UK nationals, but this continued to have “minimal impacts”.

Airbags pays out wages and salaries of £9.5m and employs 115 direct staff, 58 salaried staff, and 42 indirect staff; indirect and direct are paid weekly, indirect being those that support production, for example maintenance, and direct being those that work on the production lines.

The company is a subsidiary undertaking of Autoliv UK Holding, and the ultimate parent undertaking and controlling party is Autoliv Inc, incorporated in Delaware in the US. Autoliv AB is incorporated in Sweden.

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