GE Consumer & Industrial announced a major restructuring of its lighting operations. As part of these efforts, the Louisville, Ky.-based GE business unit plans to close several of its lighting plants in Mexico, Brazil and the United States, source more lamp components and increase its R&D efforts in the development of light-emitting diodes (LEDs), high-efficiency incandescent lamps and other innovative lighting technologies.
“The restructuring we are proposing, while very difficult due to the impact on employees, would be one of the most important things we've done in the 100-plus-year history of GE's lighting business,” said Jim Campbell, president and CEO of GE Consumer & Industrial. “We are proposing these actions in order to continue our leadership in an industry that is in the midst of significant change. Global market demand for the most common household lighting product — the incandescent bulb — has dramatically declined over the past five years, and change is accelerating due to new efficiency standards and technology advancements.
“In addition, our historical model of making most of the components we need for our lighting products ourselves is no longer effective in today's global economy. In many cases, we can now purchase the components we need at a more competitive cost than we can make them. It doesn't make sense for us to continue with an inefficient model. The proposed plan would allow us to continue to reinvent our production model to use our global factory more efficiently and effectively.”
The job cuts are expected to affect 1,325 jobs. GE Consumer & Industrial said it would close all of its lighting operations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, eliminating approximately 900 jobs. The company also plans to close some lighting operations in the United States, which will eliminate about 425 jobs. Some of the U.S. jobs will be transferred to other GE Lighting facilities in the United States, the company said. The company also plans to transfer some operations from facilities in Mexico and the United States to other GE locations or suppliers, which will impact about 80 positions. These actions are part of the company's previously announced restructuring activities.
Although the company has invested more than $200 million in the last four years to develop more energy-efficient lighting products, Campbell said GE's lighting business will invest even more in new lighting technologies and R&D that will help the company's oldest business maintain its market and technology leadership. “We are increasing our focus on the development and production of new, innovative lighting products like LEDs, organic LEDs, our new high-efficiency incandescent light bulbs and other products that our customers will increasingly demand and require,” he said.