About three years after the acquisition of the traditional company WMF, the French Groupe SEB has announced the cessation of production of stainless steel cookware in Baden-Württemberg. The production at the WMF location Geislingen an der Steige is "in deficit", as is generally announced on Thursday by the release of WMF SEB.
As part of a program called "Agenda 21" to strengthen WMF's competitiveness, "the production of stainless steel cookware in Geislingen should be moved to other locations in Europe by the end of 2020".
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A country spokesperson did not want to say which countries are eligible. In addition, in addition to the planned reduction of 400 jobs, only concrete agreements and decisions will be made in the coming weeks.
SEB had purchased the kitchen appliance manufacturer in May 2016 from financial investors Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) for more than 1.5 billion euros. The French company is known for brands such as Moulinex or Krups.
The group claims to have become the world market leader in commercial coffee machines and one of the largest suppliers of kitchen appliances in the acquisition of WMF. The Swabian manufacturer of coffee machines, pots, cutlery and kitchen appliances was previously in an uproar and had imposed a strict austerity program.
The WMF consumer goods segment, which is one of the most important business segments, has developed below average despite further investments. As a result, WMF is launching "Agenda 21" with the aim of rapidly improving its competitiveness and performance.
The turnaround in the consumer business must be achieved through a whole series of measures: in addition to the relocation of cookware production to other EU countries, this also includes the reorganization of logistics at the WMF warehouse in Dornstadt and a significant reduction in administrative costs.
He wants to develop the brand in the long term. These are people who think in generations.
A WMF spokesperson
"The restructuring could affect around 400 of the 6200 global jobs," it says. The decommissioning must be taken care of by a volunteer program and partial retirement and new jobs in Geislingen and in the future logistics center in Dornstadt.
At the 2016 acquisition, a WMF spokesperson described SEB as a strategic owner of a family business with long-term goals. "He wants to develop the brand in the long term. These are people who think in generations," it said then. The European Commission finally gave the go-ahead for the takeover without setting conditions for the takeover.
The company was founded in 1853 as a metalware factory Straub & Schweizer in Geislingen and is one of Germany's most internationally known manufacturers of consumer goods. WMF likes to refer to its tradition of development and production at the original location.
Only at the beginning of the year was the historical archive with more than 11,000 individual items – including pots and pans – included in the monument book of the state of Baden-Württemberg.
They are indispensable in many kitchens. WMF products. Nowadays known for pots, cutlery and coffee makers. But: did you know that the company from Geislingen aan de Steige had already made glass vases and detailed figures? But today they have the least to do. They are in the holy halls of WMF. We were there.