Lonza to increase working week at Visp plant

Faces pressure from strong Swiss franc plus higher energy and raw materials costs

Swiss biotech firm Lonza has increased the working week for all 2,500 staff at its site in Visp from 41 to 43 hours for the next 18 months as it faces pressure from the strong Swiss franc.

The group said it was also facing higher raw materials and energy costs and aggressive pricing by competitors.

Altogether this pressure is estimated to have resulted in a loss for Lonza of up to CHF70m (€57m; £51m; US$82m) so far in 2011, and it is expected to continue through the short and mid-term.

The firm said it expects this temporary increase in working time partially to offset the challenges at Visp. Over the next 18 months it will continue to work on changes, effective in the mid- and long-term. This includes increasing productivity, optimising the product portfolio and introducing new products and services.

‘We have a high utilisation and the plants are working at full capacity, but our profitability is troubled due to the negative exchange rate which increasingly diminishes revenue,’ said Stephane Mischler, site manager at Visp.

‘We are convinced that the Lonza employees in Visp will support the temporary working hour increase to meet this challenge. The immediate increase of the site’s attractiveness is crucial for future investment decisions and thus also for Lonza’s prosperity in Visp.’