As part of its “Global Manufacturing Footprint Program” GEA aims to sell the Westfalia Separator Production France SAS entity (WSPF SAS), i.e. its French standard separators production facility (WSPF) and the respective real estate in Château-Thierry (Hauts-de-France region). The administrative offices for GEA’s other activities that are located in Château-Thierry will not be impacted. A binding offer has been submitted by the French industrial group Altifort that was brought in by Nord France Invest.
On this basis, GEA and Altifort will now enter into exclusive negotiations. The proposed transaction would allow the preservation of all related jobs. The information and consultation procedure involving the employee representative bodies will be carried out immediately. To enable a smooth transition for all parties, a transitional period of up to two years could be agreed by the parties with GEA ensuring the purchase of relevant production services from the site. Subject to consultation with WSPF employee representatives in Château-Thierry, the parties contemplate to implement the transaction in the third quarter of 2018. The parties have agreed not to disclose any financial details of the transaction.
“After the evaluation of potential footprint scenarios as part of our Global Manufacturing Program, the offer made by Altifort is a material step towards streamlining the GEA production footprint. We are delighted to offer an industrial future to the production facility and skill-enhancing prospects for all employees. Altifort has our full confidence. We are convinced that Altifort will be able to further successfully develop the site,” stated Steffen Bersch, member of the GEA Executive Board and responsible for the Business Area Equipment. “If we sell this production site, our customers will experience no difference at all as our product portfolio, previously produced in Château-Thierry, will remain completely unchanged.”
“We would be delighted to integrate this production unit into the Altifort Group and would welcome the GEA employees on site whose high level of skills and qualifications is currently lacking in the group. We have a detailed, sustainable business plan with solid commercial prospects thanks to a substantial backlog and a real development plan for activities for which the know-how of the employees is an essential and precious asset,” added Bart Gruyaert, General Manager of Altifort.
Today, GEA’s Château-Thierry site hosts several branches employing a total of almost 200 employees. The branch targeted by the transaction is a production facility with more than 100 employees. The remaining local branches are sales and logistics entities that would not be affected by the transaction. The transaction foresees no compulsory redundancies of any WSPF employees and will be closely aligned with the respective procedures agreed with the French local works council and GEA’s European Works Council.
GEA is one of the largest suppliers for the food processing industry and a wide range of other industries that generated consolidated revenues of approximately EUR 4.6 billion in 2017. The international technology group focuses on process technology, components and sustainable energy solutions for sophisticated production processes in various end-user markets. The group generates around 70 percent of its revenue in the food and beverages sector that enjoys long-term sustainable growth. As of December 31, 2017, the company employed about 18,000 people worldwide. GEA is a market and technology leader in its business areas. The company is listed on the German MDAX (G1A, WKN 660 200). In addition, GEA’s stock is included in the MSCI Global Sustainability Indexes. Further information is available on the Internet at gea.com.
About Altifort Group
Founded in 2014 by two entrepreneurs, Stanislas Vigier (President) and Bart Gruyaert (CEO), Altifort is an international industrial group present in Germany, Belgium, France, and Ukraine, specializing in fluids (Altifluid) and the mechanical industry (Altimotion). A bold and ambitious group, Altifort focuses its strategy on two main areas: taking over high-potential industrial companies; and innovation, developing products and services with high added value using robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) to pave the way for Industry 4.0. Several acquisitions underway should bring the Altifort Group to more than 1,000 employees and an estimated 140 M€ in sales by the end of 2018. For more information about Altifort Group: www.altifort.com.