© Components | February 24, 2012

Farnell in talks to close European offices

Farnell is considering transferring its telesales and telemarketing activities across Europe to a new element 14 center in Krakow, Poland. Offices in Belgium, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland would close under the plan.
Earlier this week Evertiq received information from a source that Farnell was considering a plan to restructure operations in Europe. The company has now confirmed details of the plan in an exclusive interview.

Jenny Peters, Head of Corporate Communications at Premier Farnell, told Evertiq that the company is currently in negotiations with employees and their representatives across several countries regarding the plan.

If the plan goes ahead the new multi-lingual Krakow office would be operational by Autumn 2012 and the closure of offices in Belgium, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland would occur before then.

Activities currently carried out in the shut down offices would be transferred either to the proposed new center or to elsewhere in the Group according to a statement the company provided Evertiq.

Under the plan, local presence would be maintained through field sales and inbound sales teams the statement said.

Job losses

Peters was reluctant to estimate how many jobs would be affected if the plan went ahead, saying only that it was a ”small proportion of the overall workforce and a small number in each country”.

The number of employees in each office that would close down was ”definitely less than ten in each of the offices and I think quite smaller than that,” said Peters.

”In some of our smaller offices if you take out the people that do that work the team that remains might be as few as two people,” Peters said. ”It's not practical to continue to run an office for just two people.”

Peters said the company is committed to providing support to employees who lost their job under the plan, including appropriate payment and out placement support.

Krakow, Poland

A team at Farnell conducted a review of 30 cities across Europe before Krakow was chosen as the location for the new center.

”The most defining single fact was that English is the main business language (in Krakow) and that there is an exceptional language capability,” said Peters.

Changing customer demand drives plan

According to a statement provided by the company, the new strategy is a reaction to changing demands of purchasing and engineering customers - 76% of the company's European business is now transacted via eCommerce channels.

”I think the world around us is changing fairly quickly anyway, but certainly within our technologies markets the shift towards the web and the number of customers wanting to transact their business online is greater than ever before,” Peters said.

Peters denied that increased completion from American distributors in Europe influenced the decision to consider the plan. ”The nature of the high service distribution business, that we are in, is that over 99 percent of our products and orders are shipped same day,” said Peters.

”For us and our customers I think (that) one of the biggest differentiations that we are able to offer compared to some of our competitors, is locally held inventory in region is able to get very quickly to the people who need it”.
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