June 28, 2018 / 4:41 PM / in 4 months

Zumtobel to shift production to Serbia from China

VIENNA, June 28 (Reuters) - Austrian lighting group Zumtobel plans to shift production from China to a new plant in Serbia as part of its turnaround strategy, its chief executive said on Thursday.

Alfred Felder, who took over at Zumtobel just four months ago, said production in Nis in southern Serbia would be cheaper than in China, partly due to shorter distances to customers.

The ‘made in Europe’ label is also a selling point for some customers, the new CEO said in the first hints of what his new strategy - due to be presented in September - might involve.

“Some of our customers simply do not want ‘made in China’,” he said.

Around 60 percent of the lighting components currently produced in China are for export, and this part of production will be moved to the Serbian plant by the end of the year, Felder said. The rest of the Chinese production will then move to a smaller sit.

As one of his first acts as CEO, Felder had to present Zumtobel’s first loss in four years earlier on Thursday, sending its shares tumbling to a nine-year-low.

The group had to reshuffle its management after its former chief executive and finance chief left in February following a dispute over strategy with the supervisory board and the Zumtobel family, which has a 35 percent stake. (Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Mark Potter)

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