ONE OF the UK’s biggest lighting factories is set to close due to pressure on margins in the commercial lighting sector.
Electrical giant Eaton is quitting the mains lighting market in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and closing the 50,000 square metre former Cooper Lighting and Safety plant in Doncaster, which it acquired in 2012.
Luminaires for commercial, retail, education and industrial applications are designed and manufactured at the site, which employs 390 people.
Some 300 jobs are set to go, with the remaining 90 transferring to the emergency lighting operation which will continue on a separate location.
One member of staff, who had just returned to Doncaster after three months of furlough, described the announcement as ‘the worst possible news’.
In a statement, the US company, whose global headquarters are in Ireland, said: ‘Following a strategic review of the business, regrettably Eaton announced to its employees that it is proposing to exit the EMEA Mains Lighting business market and focus activities in Doncaster on Emergency Lighting and Fire product lines as well as a centre of excellence for key UK support functions.
‘We believe that this proposal is the most appropriate due to the continued challenges of increased global competition and sustained negative financial results that have made the mains lighting product lines no longer commercially viable.
‘Should this proposal be implemented, it would result in the closure of the existing Doncaster facility, the exit of the mains lighting market and a move to a new facility within the Doncaster region with a smaller team.
‘It is anticipated that approximately 300 positions based in or out of the company’s current facility in Doncaster would be impacted.
‘This is in no way a reflection of the hard work and dedication of the team over the past years. It is intended that up to 90 positions may be able to transfer to the new facility.
‘This action would be taken in full accordance with local laws and consistent with Eaton’s practices.
‘We regret the impact that this proposed restructuring would have on our employees and their families and would take steps to ensure any actions are carried out with care and concern for all of individuals involved.
‘Our goal would be to help impacted workers transition to new facilities, new positions or to new careers.’
The Doncaster site is one of the oldest in the industry and originally started making lamps under the Crompton brand in 1878.
In 2000, Crompton Lighting was bought by Cooper Industries which saw emergency lighting brands Menvier and JSB brought into a single business unit to form Cooper Lighting and Safety.
In 2012, US electrical giant Eaton acquired the Cooper Industries business units and renamed the lighting division Eaton.
In 2019, Signify bought Cooper Lighting from Eaton for £1.1 billion, acquiring its mostly North American assets and brands, but the Doncaster operation was not included in the deal and remained with Eaton.
Prices and margins in the commercial lighting sector have come under intense pressure in recent years due to a combination of factors including historic oversupply, competition from China and a narrowing of product differentiation between LED-based luminaires.