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Gretag Imaging collapses – 1,000 jobs at risk

The company has been hit by a slump in orders Keystone Archive

Swiss photo processing equipment maker, Gretag Imaging, has filed for insolvency, threatening some 1,000 jobs - 400 in Switzerland.

Once a stock market favourite, Gretag has fallen victim to the digital revolution.

On Monday, the company confirmed that last-ditch efforts to resuscitate its business had failed.

“In the end, the problem of over-indebtedness, coupled with short-term liquidity needs, was an insurmountable hurdle,” Gretag said in a statement.

The announcement came just hours ahead of an extraordinary shareholder meeting on Monday called to vote on a rescue package.

Analysts said Gretag had struggled to adjust capacity and staffing levels in the face of a slump in demand for its printing and developing products.

The company, whose headquarters are in Regensdorf near Zurich, said bankruptcy would affect around 1,000 workers – including 400 in Switzerland.

It said that enough cash had been put aside to pay December’s salaries.

Tumbling stocks

Shares in the firm have fallen more then 78 per cent this year, after losing more than 95 per cent of their value in 2001.

After setting a year-low in October of SFr0.80 per share, it traded last Friday at SFr1.45.

In April, Gretag reported a net loss of SFr285.7 million for 2001, up from a loss of SFr45.8 million in the previous year.

The company said sales dropped by 48 per cent to SFr460.7 million and the operating loss was SFr257 million, compared with a loss of SFr35.3 million in 2000.

Gretag said at the time that it had been hoping to break even in 2003, partly due to a cash injection from the United States photo giant, Kodak Co., which took over a five per cent stake in the company.

Furious shareholders at Monday’s meeting expressed outrage at the company’s crumbling fortunes.

“Who is responsible for this debacle,” said one shareholder.

Others blamed major Gretag shareholders for not bailing the company out, despite earning “hundreds of millions” in share trades during the good years.

At its height, shares in Gretag traded at over SFr400.


Gretag Imaging has filed for insolvency.
The decision is likely to affect around 1,000 workers – 400 in Switzerland.
The company has been battling to cope with a slump in orders.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR