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Kiwi Manufacturers At Tipping Point

27 April 2007

Sleepyhead Says Kiwi Manufacturers At Tipping Point

The country’s largest bedding manufacturer, Sleepyhead is urging the Government to heed warning calls from Kiwi companies being squeezed out of New Zealand by interest rate hikes and the high kiwi dollar.

Sleepyhead, which currently employs around 500 staff in its three plants around New Zealand, has been New Zealand owned and operated since 1935.

Managing Director, Graeme Turner says the company is constantly reviewing its international competitiveness and that includes looking at New Zealand’s ability to support manufacturing by providing a level-playing field when it comes to factors like interest rates, the exchange rate and addressing the massive export subsidies given by countries like China to their manufacturers.

“Currently that is not the case, as the loss of Fisher & Paykel’s plant clearly shows. Manufacturers are not asking for hand-outs, they are asking for economic policy that assists them to be globally competitive,” said Turner.

“Conditions have become increasingly difficult over the past 5 years. Fisher & Paykel’s departure shows manufacturers have reached the tipping point. If conditions don’t improve, our options will ultimately be the same as for other manufacturers.”

Graeme Turner said it’s becoming increasingly difficult for manufacturers to be financially viable in New Zealand and the company is being forced to look seriously at off-shore options, including China. There’s probably a 12-month window for most companies now before they start taking those hard decisions.

“However, at this point, leaving New Zealand is not a decision Sleepyhead has or wants to make.”

“New Zealand needs a strong manufacturing base. Companies lost now will never return,” he said.


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