Summit Wool Spinners' Oamaru plant is to close with the loss
of 192 jobs after its parent company sold the business.
Japan's Sumitomo Corp confirmed today that it has sold Summit
Wool Spinners plant to Australia's Godfrey Hirst, leading to
the closure of the Oamaru plant.
Summit is New Zealand's largest independent spinner,
supplying carpet and rug yarn for the domestic and
Members of the EPMU and FIRST Union were told of the decision
at a site meeting this afternoon.
EPMU organiser John Gardner said Summit - Oamaru's second
biggest employer - had been hit hard by the high New Zealand
"These redundancies are devastating for staff and for the
whole community of Oamaru which relies so heavily on these
jobs," he said in a statement.
An unnamed worker said: "I think there was a feeling that
there was something going down. It was hard to take it all
in. It was a lot of information to hear.
"It will take a bit to digest it all and make sense of it.
There will be a lot of stunned families tonight.''
Greens co-leader Metiria Turei said the the jobs were
"sacrificed because of the National Government's devotion to
a failed monetary policy and its unwillingness to change with
"This week, manufacturers came to the Parliamentary Inquiry
into Manufacturing and warned us that more businesses would
close and more jobs would be lost unless the Government gets
the dollar down to a fair level quickly.
"These 192 redundancies, and the other jobs that will surely
be lost in Oamaru as the shock of the loss of its iconic
employer ripples through the community, are proof that the
manufacturers were not exaggerating in their plea for
government intervention,'' she said.
Labour's finance spokesman David Parker said the current
owners and workers of Summit were more victims of the high
dollar, which was crippling exporters and costing jobs.
"This cannot go on. On Monday chief executives of major Kiwi
companies told the Parliamentary Inquiry on Manufacturing
that the high dollar is forcing them to cut jobs, reduce
investment and, in some cases, head offshore or shut down.
"Our manufacturing sector outside primary industries is being
hollowed out and the dollar is to blame. But National refuses
to consider any changes that might lower the exchange rate,''
Sumitomo said the decision to sell was driven by a number of
factors affecting trading results, including an unfavourable
exchange rate and less local demand for wool carpets.
International demand for woollen carpet yarn had also been
affected by the global financial crisis, Summit's managing
director Harry Ogawa said.
From Sumitomo's perspective, Summit was becoming isolated
from the parent's global textile business, he said.
The acquisition is expected to become effective from the end
The plant was sold to the Godfrey Hirst subsidiary Canterbury
Spinners, which operates plants in Lower Hutt and Dannevirke.
Sumitomo is one of Japan's largest listed companies.