By James Wells

ADELAIDE: Electrolux Home Products will cut 500 employees over the next 18 months as the Swedish company closes two factories in Adelaide manufacturing dishwashers, washers and dryers and scales back Australian manufacturing.

The Electrolux dishwasher plant at Regency Park will close at the end of April next year and the Electrolux washer/dryer plant at Beverley will close by the end of the first quarter 2008. During this period, production will be moved gradually to Electrolux factories in South East Asia and Europe.

Electrolux will continue to manufacture refrigerators and cooking appliances in Australia at its factories located at Orange, 250kms west of Sydney and cooking appliances at Dudley Park in Adelaide respectively.

Electrolux Home Products Australia and New Zealand managing director, Trevor Carroll, said approximately 500 jobs will be affected by the closures and that a voluntary redundancy program would be implemented across the company’s three Adelaide manufacturing operations.

“We are hoping that the staggered closures of the factories and the voluntary redundancies will minimise the impact of the company’s decision by giving our South Australian production employees the opportunity to plan their future,” he said.

“Those who volunteer and are accepted for redundancy will vacate jobs for those who want to continue to work for Electrolux in cooking appliance production at Dudley Park. Others may be offered on-going employment with Electrolux elsewhere within the organisation, including overseas.”

Carroll said that after the closures, Electrolux will continue to employ approximately 1,800 people in Australia and 500 in South Australia.

“Despite the closures, we will remain Australia’s whitegoods industry leader,” he said.

Carroll also said that Electrolux made the decision to close factories only as a last resort and "after exhaustive analysis of their international competitiveness".

“However, it has become clear that Electrolux is able to manufacture washers, dryers and dishwashers which are currently made here more cost effectively in company factories in Europe and South-East Asia,” he said.

Carroll said that Electrolux employees accepted for voluntary redundancy or who are made redundant will receive their full entitlements under existing workplace agreements, which apply to their sites. Electrolux will also provide outplacement support in the form of financial advice and re-employment counselling to those affected.

“We will continue to be Australia’s only significant manufacturer of cooking appliances and refrigerators. And we will continue to offer products with thoughtful design innovation and premium quality which Australians associate with our brands.”