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French glassware makers furlough staff as gas prices soar

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: An employee holds a glass as he works at the Duralex International glass factory in La Chapelle-Saint-Mesmin, near Orleans

PARIS (Reuters) - Two famous French glassware makers are putting part of their staff on furlough as soaring gas prices make it impossible to operate their glass ovens profitably, the companies said.

Tableware maker Duralex - whose sturdy drinking glasses are ubiquitous in French schools and corporate canteens - will furlough a large part of its 250 staff for at least four months from Nov. 1 and will put its ovens on standby, its chief executive said.

Jose-Luis Llacuna said that as gas prices soared in recent months, the firm's energy costs have risen to 40% of its turnover from 5% to 7% a year ago.

"It is impossible to continue like this. The high prices of power and gas threaten the survival of the company and our jobs," he said on franceinfo radio.

The firm melts silica at 1,500 degrees Celsius (2,730° F) to turn it into glass to produce its trademark tempered glass crockery, tableware and oven dishes.

He said the company had been on the right track following financial difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic and its January 2021 takeover by Pyrex brand owner International Cookware.

"We are extremely frustrated. We have done everything we can to save this company, but there is an external cost element over which we have no control," Llacuna said.

At Cristallerie Arc - another household name in French tableware - 1,600 of the 4,500 staff will be put on furlough for two days a week, a company spokesman said.

He said the company's gas bill had nearly quadrupled from 19 million euros ($19 million) in 2021 to 75 million in 2022, making it impossible to continue production at current levels.

($1 = 1.0001 euros)

(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; editing by Jonathan Oatis)