Thailand will remain an important production base for Japanese electronics company Panasonic, although the company has decided to shut down its washing machine and refrigerator plants in Chachoengsao and move to Vietnam.
Sirirat Yongcharoenchai, general manager for corporate communication at Panasonic Management (Thailand), said top executives in Japan and Thailand have discussed closing the 41-year-old plants since last November and informed staff last month so they could prepare.
The two factories are managed by Panasonic Appliances (Thailand) Co, located at Wellgrow Industrial Estate in Chachoengsao province, employing about 800 workers.
Ms Sirirat confirmed yesterday Panasonic will shut down the two factories and move production to Vietnam as part of the company's consolidation plan.
The two plants started operations in 1979.
The washing machine plant will end production in late September, with the refrigerator plant scheduled to end its output in late October.
An R&D facility founded in 2005 at the same area will end its operation by late September.
The company has to lay off 800 staff at the plants and the R&D facility -- 760 for the two factories and 40 for the R&D centre.
Five years ago, Panasonic moved the production base for rice cookers to Malaysia, citing economy of scale.
"Thailand will remain an important production base for the group in this region," she said.
Panasonic Group still operates 18 companies and factories in Thailand making batteries, beauty equipment, lighting, electric fans, car audio and electronic parts for the automotive business, with 13,700 staff.
Ms Sirirat said the consolidation plan mainly aims for operation cost efficiency, economy of scale in parts procurement and competitiveness enhancement.
Both washing machines and refrigerators will remain key products for Southeast Asia, she said.
Panasonic is in the midst of restructuring efforts, with the goal of cutting costs by about US$930 million by the fiscal year ending March 2022.