Construction industry supplier James Hardie is closing down its Cooroy plant. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.
Construction industry supplier James Hardie is closing down its Cooroy plant. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily. Patrick Woods

30 jobs lost after building company's shock Coast closure

UPDATE 12.30pm:

THE closure of James Hardie's Cooroy branch has been described as a "shock to the local economy".

The global building products company announced the Cooroy plant was one of three it would close internationally in response to the Covid-19 economic fallout.

Cooroy Chamber of Commerce president Chris Bell said the plant employs 30 people, mainly in office and manufacturing positions.

"The chamber had a courtesy call four weeks ago (about the closure), which I appreciated, but it doesn't soften the blow because it's a shock to the local economy," he said.

"We're all struggling enough as it is."

Mr Bell was told that despite attempting to "make it work" over three weeks, the company had decided it needed to close the branch.

The closure is one of several items on the agenda of a chamber meeting this afternoon.

Master Builders Sunshine Coast regional manager Will Wilson said while he sympathised for the 30 people who will be unemployed, the closure would not affect construction work or availability of James Hardie products on the Coast.

"I absolutely feel very much for the people who are losing their jobs and their families," he said.

"It's the absolute worst time for anyone to lose a job.

"As a builder I have laid thousands of kilometres of James Hardie cladding.

"This won't change the availability of the Hardie product."

Earlier 9.39am:

JOBS will be lost as global building products giant James Hardie Industries prepares to close its Cooroy branch.

The closure of the formwork plant is one of a string of announcements made by the global company this week via an ASX announcement.

It is one of three shuttered plants, including Penrose in New Zealand and Summerville in South Carolina, causing about 375 job losses.

The Cooroy branch is expected to close in the coming months.

"These decisions are always extremely difficult," CEO Dr Jack Truong said.

"Our leadership team took this action with considerable thoughtfulness, with the strategic objective of preserving and enhancing the global organisation's competitiveness over the long term."

James Hardie Systems purchased the former Ritek business at Cooroy in March 2017, when it employed 120 people.

On Tuesday the company announced a trimming of its full-year profit forecast for 2019-20, from $US350 million to $370 million down to $US350 million to $355 million.

The company will make quarterly contributions to its Asbestos Injuries Compensation Fund, which was set up in 2007 to compensate people for asbestos-related diseases, rather than a lump-sum payment in July.

James Hardie's reputation took a big hit after thousands of claims were made from people exposed to asbestos fibres in some of its products, which were taken off the market in the late 1980s.

The company will also cut capital spending for the next financial year by a third and have a hiring freeze.

"James Hardie employees have been incredibly dedicated and resilient during this very challenging time," Dr Truong said.

"I want to express my gratitude to our team members and their families for their tireless commitment to the safety of themselves and one another.

"I am confident we will emerge from this crisis a stronger company."


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