Cukrovary TTD, which is currently controlled by French company Societe Anonyme Sucriere do Berneuil sur Aisne and Germany's Nordzucker, has announced the closure of its sugar refinery in Melnik, Czech Republic.
Cukrovary, which is currently one of the largest Czech sugar producers, said that the closure will take effect of January 1, 2004.
According to a report from Czech press agency CTK, the plans will mean that only a sugar packaging unit will be maintained at the Melnik facility which will employ 60 staff. The remainder of the staff will face redundancy.
The closure of the Melnik refinery has been caused by mounting debts to farmers and sugar beet suppliers. According to the report the debts will be taken over by the Dobrovice sugar refinery, Vladislava Horakova, which will now take on Cukrovary existing business arrangements for the Melnik refinery.
The company said that the closure of the Melnik facility will be offset by a higher output in the Dobrovice as well as the Ceske Mezirici sugar refineries. This means that processing capacity at the two plants will increase by between 10 and 30 per cent.
Board chairman Oldrich Reinbegr said that the move had been implemented in an effort to boost the competitiveness of the company and further improve the quality of its products.
Cukrovary TTD evolved as an entity this year, following the merger of several sugar processors during the course of the last few years.
The closure perhaps marks a turning point for European investment in Eastern Europe's sugar processing industry. Earlier this year, Nordzucker obtained majority stakes in three Hungarian sugar refineries, produce 130,000 tonnes of sugar annually, and accounting for about one-third of Hungary's sugar output.
The three refineries, situated in Hatvan, Szolnok and Szerencs, were formerly owned by French sugar producer Beghin-Say.