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Sony to close last US-based LCD TV factory

Sony to close last US-based LCD TV factory

Sony has named its Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, plant as the second factory of a planned five or six that will be shut down as part of a global restructuring. The factory is Sony's last remaining TV manufacturing facility in the U.S., and the closure will see 560 people lose their jobs.

On Tuesday Sony announced plans to close around 10 percent of its 57 factories worldwide and lay off about 8,000 full-time staff and a similar number of temporary workers as part of measures to deal with slowdowns in many major markets.

"The current economic climate was a key factor that led us to make the strategic business decision to streamline our manufacturing operations not only in the U.S. but worldwide," said Stan Glasgow, president and chief operating officer of Sony Electronics, in a statement.

Television manufacturing is scheduled to end at the plant by February 2009, after which Sony will supply the U.S. market from its factory in Baja, Mexico. The plant will close completely in March 2010 when the TV and Blu-ray Disc repair and U.S. East Coast logistics operations are also ended.

The Pittsburgh Technology Center, as the facility is known, first opened in 1990 and made large rear-projection TVs. It switched to flat-panel LCD (liquid crystal display) production when that technology became popular and currently produces 46- and 52-inch LCD TVs.

In addition to the U.S. plant closure, Sony said on Tuesday that it would shutter its tape and media factory at the Sony Dax Technology Center in France. Expansion of LCD TV production at its Nitra LCD television factory in Slovakia has also been put on hold.

With the announcement of the Pittsburgh closure the spotlight now moves to Japan. Sony said two of the planned factory closures would be overseas, so the remaining three or four factories yet to be announced will be domestic plants.

Sony has been dealt a double-blow by the current harsh economic conditions. A recession in its biggest markets is hitting sales and the strong Japanese yen is cutting into profits on products it sells. In reaction to the appreciation of the yen Sony said it will be forced to hike some product prices in 2009.


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