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Lego parts to stay in Switzerland

Employees at the Steinhausen plant can keep on working.

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The Danish toymaker Lego will be closing only one of two factories in central Switzerland, despite announcing that both would have to go in August.

The factory in Willisau with 239 employees will be shut down in mid-2006 as planned, but the Steinhausen plant – with 62 jobs - will remain in business.

A newly-established investor group Wisi'on Tool will take over the reins at Steinhausen in canton Zug, continuing to produce moulds for the toy-making giant for the next one to two years.

This arrangement would ease the start-up phase for the new company, said Lego.

Wisi'on Tool was set up by five businessmen keen to save the jobs in Switzerland. They hope to continue supplying Lego as well as other firms.

Closing down

The Willisau plant in canton Lucerne will be closed by mid-2006.

Production there, which involves painting the Duplo toy series for pre-school children, is expected to be transferred to Lego's factory at Kladno in the Czech Republic.

"Obviously high costs in Switzerland have been a key factor in deciding to transfer production to eastern Europe," commented Lars Altemark, a Lego senior vice president, in a statement in August, when the closure plans were first announced.

Last year, net losses more than doubled to a record $310.6 million (SFr393.7 million), after large write-down charges.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The company made a record net loss of SFr393.7 million last year.

First-half revenues for 2005 were SFr518 million, with a loss of SFr32 million.

Projected profit for the year has been set at SFr42 million.

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Key facts

Founded in 1932 Lego is the world's fourth-largest maker of toys.
The name Lego comes from the Danish words "Leg Godt", which means "Play well." In Latin it means "I put together".
The Lego group is a privately held, family-owned company, based in Billund, Denmark.

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