Pilkington to shed 1,500 jobs to make extra saving

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PAOLO SCARONI, the chief executive of troubled glass maker Pilkington, yesterday unveiled a fresh set of productivity and cost-cutting targets involving the shedding of 1,500 more jobs than previously planned.

The bulk of the losses are to come in the US.

"Now I believe we have brought Pilkington into line with its competitors and we can start looking for growth," he said. "But costs remain a key priority. This should put us at the forefront of the industry."

The group, whose sales fell 10 per cent to pounds 2.7bn last year, aims to cut overheads from pounds 707m to pounds 670m this year, and achieve a further pounds 30m fall in 2001. Most of the reduction will come from cutting the workforce from 31,100 to 28,500 in the next two years. Mr Scaroni previously said he would cut only 1,100 jobs.

Pilkington also pledged to increase productivity by 690 to 790 tonnes of glass per head by 2001. It aims to half glass breakages in factories to 10 per cent.

Analysts welcomed the continued focus on savings, but some questioned whether they were enough to make Pilkington sufficiently efficient to compete in the global glass markets that are suffering from overcapacity.

The group meanwhile unveiled annual results to the end of March showing pre-tax profits up 12.5 per cent at pounds 135m and earnings per share up 58 per cent at 6.5p before exceptional items. On-going restructuring costs totalled pounds 100m.

Investment, page 25