Ahlstrom recently announced that it will consolidate its air filtration sites in Bellingham, MA and Darlington, SC to its Bethune plant in South Carolina. Following the consolidation, the Darlington plant will be closed by the end of the year. The Bellingham plant will be closed by the third quarter of 2008, as announced earlier. Ahlstrom estimates a non-recurring cost of approximately €4 million in its fourth quarter 2007.
Ahlstrom acquired the Bethune nonwovens plant from Fiberweb in May 2007. The €8 million investment in a new needlepunch line at the Darlington facility, announced in May, will be redirected to the Bethune plant. In addition, selected manufacturing lines will be transferred to Bethune from Bellingham and Darlington. The company describes the consolidation of assets to Bethune as being in line with its strategy to consolidate business to larger sites in order to share the existing infrastructure and reduce fixed costs. After the consolidation, the Bethune plant will have eight production lines, including four air filtration and four wiping fabrics lines, and employ over 300 employees.
The closure of the Bellingham and Darlington plants is expected to affect approximately 150 positions. The consolidation of manufacturing lines to the Bethune plant is estimated to create 50 new positions in Bethune. According to the company, it is striving to ensure that service to its customers will not be disrupted due to the consolidation process.