24 Jul 2024


950 jobs go as Timken shuts UK bearings plant

950 jobs go as Timken shuts UK bearings plant

Timken, the US bearings and steel alloy group, is closing its bearings plant in Duston, Northampton, with the loss of 950 jobs. The closure, is part of an effort to save $100m a year by 2004 for the company which recently suffered a 62% drop in profits. Other rationalisation measures, including the closure of a bearings plant in Ohio, will cut Timken`s staff by around 1,500 – about 7% of its workforce – over the coming two years.

“The decisions to close these plants did not come easily,” says Timken chief executive James Griffith. “We deeply regret the disruption these actions will cause in the lives of the associates who work in these plants.”

The Duston plant has been part of Timken since 1942. Last year, in an earlier round of cutbacks, 300 jobs were lost at the site. Some of the testing and development activities carried out at Duston are being transferred to a new technology centre being built in France at a cost of more than $5m.

In a separate move, Timken is reportedly forming an alliance with NSK which could create the largest group in the bearings sector. If the deal is finalised, the partners plan to sell products jointly and co-operate on procuring material. They also intend to set up a manufacturing plant in Thailand and an r&d centre in Japan.

The joint operation could have sales of more than $4bn, making it bigger than the current market-leader, SKF. At present, NSK is number two in the global bearings market with about 13% of the market, while Timken is in fifth position with an 8% share. If it goes ahead, the deal will give NSK better access to the automotive market, and Timken a larger presence in Japan.

Earlier this year, Timken sold its Sheffield-based tool and steel die operations to private investors. The company is now called Sanderson Speciality Steels.