The Managing Board of SMA Solar Technology AG (SMA) today informed the company’s employees at an employee meeting about further planned personnel adjustments. To respond to the changing conditions in the global photovoltaic market and the associated strong decline in sales, a gradual downsizing of 700 full-time positions in Germany is planned by December 31, 2014.
“We are expecting an extended period of consolidation in the solar sector. For the first time in many years, measured in Euros, the global photovoltaic market will decline in 2013. As market leader, we will be especially affected by this. In such a short space of time, we are not able to offset the sharp decrease in sales – nearly 50% since 2010 –with the ongoing measures for increasing productivity and saving on material costs alone. We have therefore been forced to make even more far-reaching changes than planned to our personnel structure over the coming months,” explains SMA Chief Executive Officer Pierre-Pascal Urbon.
At the employee meeting, the company announced that in relation to the cutoff date of March 31, 2013, a total of 700 full-time positions will be downscaled in Germany by the end of 2014. This corresponds to around 800 employees, as the layoffs will affect both full-time and part-time employees. By the end of 2014, full-time positions in Germany will be at 3 000.
In recent weeks, the Managing Board has led constructive negotiations with the Works Council to ensure that any personnel adjustments are handled in the most socially responsible way. These negotiations are still in progress. The options of a further voluntary separation scheme or a transfer of the affected employees to a transitional company are under discussion. At present, the Managing Board is unable to exclude the possibility of compulsory terminations for operational reasons if the stated measures do not result in the required reduction in staff. “The planned downsizing is unavoidable if SMA is to emerge strengthened from the current consolidation phase in the solar sector. When making decisions about these cutbacks, we have used our best judgement and have kept an eye on our shared values,” says Pierre-Pascal Urbon.
The planned reduction in staff will affect all SMA divisions and corporate center in Germany. IT and development specialists will not be affected. SMA plans to continue investing, particularly in the area of technology development to strengthen the company’s ability to operate in the future and to systematically extend the global technology leadership. The Managing Board believes that the long-term prospects in the industry and for the company are good. “Our future energy supply will be largely decentralized and will be based on renewable energies. We will actively help to shape the transformation in the energy sector through the development of entirely new product platforms, our excellent service and our global presence,” explains Pierre-Pascal Urbon.
The SMA Group generated sales of €1.5 billion in 2012 and is the global market leader for solar inverters, a key component of all PV plants and, as an energy management group, offers innovative key technologies for future power supply structures. It is headquartered in Niestetal, near Kassel, Germany, and is represented internationally in 21 countries. The Group employs more than 5,000 people worldwide. SMA’s broad product portfolio includes a compatible inverter for every type of module on the market and for all plant sizes. The product range includes both inverters for photovoltaic plants connected to the grid as well as inverters for off-grid systems. SMA is therefore able to provide ideal technical inverter solutions for all plant sizes and types. Since 2008, the Group’s parent company, SMA Solar Technology AG, has been listed on the Prime Standard of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (S92) and also in the TecDAX index. In recent years, SMA has received numerous awards for excellence as an employer and achieved first place in the nationwide “Great Place to Work®” competition in 2011 and 2012 and fourth place in 2013.
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