Some 650 European Jobs to Go as BASF Shifts Pigment Focus

24.10.2013 -

As part of an ongoing drive to improve the competitive position of its pigment business, BASF plans to close at least one European production plant, at Paisley, Scotland, in 2015, and restructure its plant at Huningue plant in France. It also will "examine strategic options" for its site in Maastricht, The Netherlands. Some 650 jobs will be trimmed within the global network by 2017, the German group said without giving details.

Around 141 of the jobs are slated to be lost at Paisley, a site BASF picked up in the acquisition of Ciba in 2011. The facility has capacity to produce 18,000 t/y of pigments, of which around 80% is exported. A large part of the plant's output used for printing publications, and the once high-volume printing industry is shrinking as new technologies reduce demand for pigments, the group remarked. 

Finance secretary John Swinney said the Scottish government and its agencies will meet with BASF "as a matter of urgency to discuss options for the site." 

While rationalizing in Europe, BASF intends to further strengthen its production footprint in the fast-growing markets of Asia-Pacific. Plans include the start-up and expansion of a plant for high-performance pigments at the group's wholly-owned production site in Nanjing, China, and the expansion of its pigments plant in Ulsan, Korea.

The long-term strategy for the pigments business also encompasses an enhanced customer focus, which BASF said means that it will continue to design differentiated products in high-value applications, while at the same time improving service, reliability and speed for customers. Some €250 million will be invested in the global production network as well as in R&D.

The planned moves "will make us more responsive to market and customer needs," said Markus Kramer, president of BASF's Dispersions & Pigments division, adding that, "we also continue to significantly invest in innovation as the leading pigment supplier." Additional measures to improve the competitiveness of the Performance Products segment, to which pigments belong, "continue to be analyzed."