Tile-maker idle all year

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Latvia’s only ceramic tile manufacturer Brocēnu keramika in south-central Kurzeme province has sat idle since Christmas due to drop in demand from Russia, company board chairman Ingars Ūdris told national information agency LETA Thursday.

While the flow of production at the plant has always been on-and-off on a seasonal basis, requiring the kilns to be maintained for two to three months after each firing, this time the economic situation in Russia has prompted a longer shut-down. In 2009 the plant didn’t fire up its kilns for about a year, also in connection with conditions in Russia.

The tiles at Brocēni are made entirely for the needs of its owner – Russia’s closed joint-stock company Gruppa kompanij SU-155.

“Russia’s consumption has declined, and when there’s no demand, we don’t produce,” Ūdris said.

Most of the workforce at Brocēnu keramika have registered as unemployed.

The company’s annual report in December 2014 announced it would cease production due to lack of financing and debts to suppliers. In the meantime talks with creditors and a reduction in staff have given hope that production could resume in the fall. All workers temporarily laid-off have said they would gladly return should their jobs come online again.

According to Firmas.lv data, Brocēnu keramika turnover fell by 27% in 2014, falling from €2,400,692 to €1,749,282. However profits posted in 2013 worth €62,729 went into the red in 2014 at €262,439 in losses.

Founded in 1995 the ceramic tile-plant is 93% owned by Gruppa kompanij SU-155 and the remaining 7% by Russian citizen Mariya Balakina.

As reported, the town of Jelgava has also suffered from job uncertainty since slowdowns at key industrial employers controlled by troubled Russian capital interests.

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