Smart to close Ottawa assembly plant

Cas classique d’une délocalisation.

Extrait de: Smart to close Ottawa assembly plant, By Ari Altstedter, Ottawa Citizen August 11, 2011

Work going to third-party firm in Mexico

A Canadian maker of electronic whiteboards has announced it will close an Ottawa assembly plant and give the work to third-party manufacturers in Mexico.

Calgary-based Smart Technologies Inc. made the announcement as part of the release of its financial results for the first quarter of 2012.

The company expects revenue to be down five per cent in the coming year compared to the fiscal year of 2011. The first quarter of 2012 saw an eight-per-cent drop in revenue compared to the same period last year, largely due to slumping sales in North America.

However, the company's CEO, Nancy Knowlton, said the shutdown was spurred by the continuing strength of the Canadian dollar, and not the drop in revenue.

"It's not any reflection on the quality of staff or the ability of our people to deliver volume and quality," she said. "This decision primarily stems from currency strengthening issues which are beyond our control."

In 2009, the company moved some of its production to Eastern Europe to take advantage of lower costs and to shorten the supply chain to European clients. Last fall, it contracted out the manufacturer in Mexico who will now be getting the Ottawa jobs as well.

Knowlton did not say how many jobs would be lost in total but it will be more than 200 of Smart's approximately 400 Ottawa employees. The round of layoffs will last six months and 59 employees will lose their jobs in the first phase.

Parts of Smart's product development and logistical operations are also based in Ottawa and Knowlton said those operations will be maintained.

She said there was even plans to expand the product development unit but she would not say how many new hires that meant or when they would come.