The cost of energy “represents 40% of our turnover, it is impossible to continue producing”explains Friday September 2 on franceinfo José-Luis Llacuna, the president of the Duralex glassworks who decided to put on standby for four months “minimum” production at its factory located in La Chapelle-Saint-Mesmin in Loiret. A large part of the 250 employees of the company will be put on partial unemployment from November 1. “A priori, if we put the oven on standby, if we develop partial unemployment, if we turn around to cross this tunnel and if things stabilize, society will survive from the year 2023”he hoped.
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franceinfo: What does “putting your production on hold” mean?
Jose-Luis Llacuna: We are a glass furnace that cannot stop because the glass risks congealing. In this huge pool, we heat silica to 1,500 degrees. This heating process generates very high energy consumption. But given this impressive price spike which started last year and which was greatly exacerbated with the war in Ukraine, we must be responsible.
“For purely financial reasons, because the prices of electricity and gas jeopardize the company and employment, we are forced to put this oven on standby.”José-Luis Llacuna, president of the Duralex glassworks
We will stop producing but leave the oven alive and breathing, since a total shutdown would represent the technical death of the whole company.
What is the cost of energy in your production?
Since the beginning of 2021 and it is planned until 2023, the prices of electricity are multiplied by 22, gas by 18.
“Energy accounted for 5 to 7% of our turnover a year ago. Today, it represents 40%.”Jose-Luis Llacuna
Suffice to say that at these prices, it is impossible to continue producing and this jeopardizes the sustainability of companies.
Are your employees going to be all on partial unemployment?
From November 1, the 250 employees of Duralex, unfortunately, will be on partial unemployment. Of course, some will be less affected because we continue our commercial activity, our logistics activity. We have sufficient stocks to supply all customers without problems during the period of the kiln stoppage, which is planned for a minimum duration of four months. Four months being the period when the peaks in energy prices and in particular electricity, are expected to be the highest in our recent modern history.
Are you sure you can resume activity in the spring?
What is absurd in this situation is that society works. The company is doing well. It is progressing in turnover by 30 to 40% for this year compared to last year. We have already been able to acquire energy for the second quarter of next year. We acquired energy at very high but acceptable prices, which have nothing to do with the prices to which we are going to be subjected during the months of November, December, January, February and March of the year next. We will be able to produce under difficult but acceptable conditions.
The survival of your company is not threatened?
Everything will also depend on the evolution of demand. How will the consumer react to this very anxiety-provoking period, which is actually generating a significant drop in demand in certain categories? But a priori, if we put the oven on standby, if we develop partial unemployment, if we turn our backs, to cross this tunnel, normally, if things stabilize, we should have a clear vision that society will survive. from the year 2023. But we are not immune to other surprises.
Are you asking for the return of state aid like so much from Covid-19?
We must knock on all doors. We need help. The entire glass sector, but also the entire energy-intensive French sector, needs to find solutions and mechanisms to buy electricity and gas at a different price. There are mechanisms today, but they are largely insufficient in view of this soaring price.