Belgian chemical manufacturer Solvay closes two plants making composite materials for Boeing


Due to lower customer demand from COVID-19, Solvay’s Composite Materials business will restructure its manufacturing footprint with the intent to close two sites and reduce global headcount by 20%.

Solvay announced it will deepen and accelerate efficiency plans for its Composite Materials unit to reduce costs, improve productivity and better serve customers in light of reduced activity due to the COVID-19 crisis and to the Boeing 737 MAX debacle.

Building on measures already implemented earlier this year, Solvay’s Composite Materials business intends to cease industrial operations at its plants in Manchester, UK, and Tulsa, Oklahoma (USA). Those activities will thereby be transferred to other facilities. In addition, job reductions are being implemented across the business, and total headcount will likely reduce by approximately 570 positions or around 20% of its workforce.

These structural changes will enable the business to adapt its cost structures and to partially mitigate the downturn in the near term.

Over the past year, Solvay’s Composite Materials business already improved operational efficiencies by increasing productivity and advancing automation. Furthermore, a cost-reduction programme was implemented in response to the reduced production of Boeing 737 MAX. However, these steps are not sufficient to overcome the significant headwinds related to COVID-19. The current crisis has triggered an industry-wide reduction in expected demand in civil aircraft build rates for the near term.

The decision to part company with employees is never one that we take lightly,” said CEO Ilham Kadri. “The steps we are taking are necessary to adapt to the dynamic environment and ensure that Solvay is competitive and strongly positioned to meet our customers’ needs as growth eventually resumes – which it will.

Brussels, May 15, 2020