AGC Glass Europe will close its Athus, Belgium plant, in a move that will result in mass redundancies.

The plant specialises in the production of laminated glass for the construction industry and is located in the south of the country.

AGC stated the plant is faced with the dual handicap of a lack of industrial integration coupled with its remote location in terms of proximity to its customers.

It also stated that contracting demand and falling prices had negatively affected the laminated glass market.

The laminated glass production activities could be relocated to AGC’s float glass production plant in Moustier, in the centre of Belgium.

While in the 1990s the plant pioneered the production of laminated glass in large sheets, the Athus plant now faces competition from similar plants in Europe.

Unlike Athus, however, these are generally located within glassmaking complexes and so benefit from local upstream sourcing of glass.

Athus has also seen its market shift progressively towards the north of Europe, from which it is geographically remote.

The company believes that relocating the production activity to Moustier would enable it to make up for these competitive handicaps: Apart from being closer to the customers, the Moustier plant has the advantage of producing its own glass and also operating as a distribution centre.

The Athus plant currently employs 85 people.

A redundancy plan and accompanying support measures would have to be discussed with the Works Council and the labour unions.