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Schaeffler sale saves UK bearings-maker Barden from closure

08 May, 2019

The Schaeffler Group has agreed to sell The Barden Corporation (UK), located in Plymouth, UK, to another German bearings manufacturer, HQW, for an undisclosed sum. The Plymouth plant will continue to operate without significant changes for employees or customers, and Barden will remain a supplier to Schaeffler as well as to third-party customers.

Schaeffler had originally planned to shut the Barden plant with the loss of 350 jobs as part of a major reorganisation of its UK activities, announced last November and aimed at halving its UK workforce. It had originally proposed closing two of its three UK plants, relocating their production, and combining its two UK logistics centres into a single location in Hereford.

The closure of one of the plants in Llanelli, Wales, was confirmed after consultation in January this year and the merger of the two logistics centres is on schedule for July.

During the formal consultation period for the Plymouth site, alternative options to closure were identified. As a result, Barden is now selling The Barden Corporation (UK) to HQW Holding (UK), a UK affiliate of HQW Precision, a German supplier of precision rolling bearings and assemblies, headquartered in Kürnach.

Under the agreement, HQW will use the Barden brand worldwide except for America, where it will continue to be used exclusively by Schaeffler. At present, the Plymouth site mainly produces spindle bearings and machine parts for Schaeffler’s industrial division, as well as super-precision bearings for the aerospace and defence industries. Barden UK will continue to be a supplier to Schaeffler under a separate supply agreement.

Schaeffler's sale of its Barden business will ensure that the Plymouth-based manufacturer will continue to produce precision bearings

Schaeffler Industrial CEO Dr Stefan Spindler, predicts that the Plymouth plant will be “an excellent addition” to HQW’s portfolio of precision products. “We have every confidence that Barden will continue to offer products with the highest standards of quality.”

Barden's UK managing director, Jon Everett, adds that “this successful outcome is the result of a shared goal between the key stakeholders to find the best solution for Schaeffler, Barden’s customers and employees, and the Plymouth community”.

Jürgen Ziegler, Schaeffler’s Regional CEO Europe, says that the measures adopted by Schaeffler will make its footprint in Europe “more efficient and bring it in line with current commercial and economic conditions. It also shows that we are willing to explore all possible alternatives in each of our divisional efficiency programs. The solution we have found will safeguard Barden’s future without significant changes for customers, suppliers and employees alike.”

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