Trade union officials representing workers at board game-maker Cartamundi Ireland have described as “absolutely devastating” the Belgian-headquartered company’s decision to close its Waterford factory with the loss of potentially 234 jobs.
In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, the company, which makes popular games such as Monopoly and Twister, said the decision related to “structural overcapacity and reduced demand for board games globally post Covid”.
The company, which was once part of US games giant Hasbro, said it will now begin consultation with Cartamundi Ireland workers, unions and state agencies as it moves to shut down the production facility. The game maker has been based in Waterford since 1977, originally as MB Games. It was acquired by Hasbro in 1984, with Cartamundi taking over the facility 11 years later.
Ciaran Scallan, a Siptu representative at the factors, said the decision was “absolutely devastating” for workers.
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He said the employees have been told that the company plans to close the plant in August and the Siptu will “immediately enter into discussions with management” to see if jobs can be saved.
“For those jobs that can’t be saved, we will seek to negotiate a redundancy package which recognises and reflects the loyalty and commitment of this workforce for many decades,” he said.
President of Cartamundi’s solutions division David Germis said: “It is particularly regrettable that we plan to close our Waterford facility. It has been a source of reliable quality production and we wish to thank the management and employees for their dedication and continued application in ensuring the continuous supply of products to our customers, particularly in the recent difficult times. The factory in Waterford has been suffering losses for many months now and this is not sustainable.”
Revenues at the Irish entity jumped from €60 million in 2020 to more than €62.4 million in 2021 amid a pandemic-linked boom in board gaming. The Irish company paid a dividend of close to €2.9 million to its parent company for the 2021 financial year, accounts filed last year showed. This came after it generated profits of €2.9 million after tax.
Directors remuneration at the Irish business increased from €287,000 in 2020 to €385,000 despite a decline in pretax profits. The company has been approached for further comment.
Cartamundi Ireland said on Wednesday that sales through Covid and 2021 were “strong and peaked mid 2022″.
It said “the situation has been aggravated by increases in the price of raw materials and energy costs, which has impacted manufacturers globally”.
Barry Morrissey, managing director at Cartmundi Ireland, said: “This is a very sad day for Cartamundi Ireland. We are very proud of the quality of the work and the legacy of the plant and its people in Waterford and appreciate the efforts of everyone at the plant. Our immediate concern is the welfare of our employees. We would like to thank all our employees for their ongoing commitment, in particular during the uncertainty of recent months, and we thank IDA Ireland, the Irish Government, the local community, suppliers and customers for their support.”
The Waterford News and Star reported last summer that up to 61 jobs were in jeopardy at the Waterford plant as the parent moved to reduce the factory’s capacity.
Siptu, which represents workers at the factory, has been approached for comment.