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Airline catering Strong franc claims 300 Gategroup jobs

Competing in the airline catering business has become tougher for Gategroup

(Keystone)

Zurich-based Gategroup, which provides airline catering and airport lounge services, plans to slash some 300 jobs between its centres in Zurich, London and Reston, United States. The strong franc resulted in a CHF87.5 million ($90.7 million) loss in the first half of 2015.

The job cuts come as part of the company’s Gateway 2020 restructuring package designed to “create a leaner, more focused and simpler organisation”. Gategroup said on Thursday it would refocus its energies on emerging markets and airlines in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

“Major projects include streamlining back-office functions and reorganising corporate centres, as well as realigning operational structures,” the company said in a statement.

Gategroup has booked restructuring charges of CHF34.6 million in the first half of this year. The job cuts will take effect over the next six to 12 months.

“Our new 2020 vision unifies all of our people in all of our regions acting as one gategroup,” chief executive Xavier Rossinyol said in the statement. “We will concentrate our attention on fewer targets.”

Other industries affected

Gategroup, which has its roots in the Gate Gourmet catering arm of the now defunct Swissair, is not the only Swiss company to be affected by the strong franc.

Few industries in Switzerland have escaped the effects of the Swiss National Bank (SNB) abandoning its defence of the franc-euro CHF1.20 exchange rate cap on January 15.

The Swiss economy narrowly avoided going into recession in the first half of the year as strong domestic spending rebounded gross domestic product (GDP) growth into the black in the second quarter compared with a 0.2% contraction in the first three months of the year.

Gategroup employs nearly 28,000 staff at 124 locations in 32 countries. In the first six months of 2014 the company posted a CHF6.5 million loss.

swissinfo.ch

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