After all the good news the industry has been talking about over the last few months, it is important to understand that there are still dangers in the sector that remain. This was highlighted today with the announcement that Pilkington is to close the float line at St Helens.

The closure, announced by parent company Nippon Sheet Glass (NSG), is going to mean the loss of 140 jobs.

“The Group is taking action to reduce float capacity and output to match the requirements of its customers, consistent with its previously announced restructuring program. The proposed action is to right-size capacity to further reduce the Group’s fixed cost base, and deliver the profitability improvement of the Group’s European architectural business.

“The plan is to mothball the CH2 float line in November 2013. Off-line coating, silvering, laminating and warehousing operations will continue on the site.”

This is going to come as a massive blow to the UK glazing industry, just as it seemed the sector was getting back on it’s feet. This closure is expect to save around £19million. You do have to wonder how much of a black hole the European arm of the group has, if they find the need to save £19million. This isn’t a small closure by any means and will start to raise concerns about the health of the UK glass sector.

Charlie Leonard, GMB (glass workers’ union) regional officer said: “This is a shock. It is a devastating blow to the economy of St Helens and to the workers and families of the 140 who will lose their jobs.

“GMB will meet with the company to fully understand the position and to assess what can be done to mitigate he extent of job losses.

“The closure of this high tech continuous production plant and the highly skilled well-paid jobs is yet another major blow to the core of UK manufacturing. It represents a rolling back of national capability as float glass production is a UK invention.

“Last week it was steel jobs going also due to lack of demand in construction. Yesterday it was shipbuilding jobs. People are entitled to ask ‘what sort of recovery are we seeing?’.”

This closure follows the closing of the Essex factory in 2011 with the loss of 30 jobs More concerning is the fact that in February NSG cut 3500 jobs globally. You do have to start wondering about the future role Pilkington will play in the UK glass market.

The BBC is covering the story here: