In a fresh blow to local manufacturing, Bristile Roofing will end 83 years of making tiles in WA in favour of cheaper Spanish imports.
Parent company Brickworks said 25 jobs would be lost when Bristile's Caversham plant was shut by Christmas under a transition to importing the La Escandella tiles. Brickworks said the escalating cost of making terracotta tiles in WA and the strong dollar made it more economical to ship the product from Europe.
Managing director Lindsay Partridge said Bristile would have needed to upgrade its manufacturing facilities to match the quality of the premium Spanish product.
"We would have had to invest something like $35 million to refit the factory," Mr Partridge said. "It would have taken us 12 or 18 months."
WA's housing construction slump, sharply increased gas and electricity prices and the carbon tax put paid to that.
"All these factors have impacted on our ability to manufacture them cheaper than what we can bring them in from overseas," he said.
Bristile struck an exclusive distribution deal with La Escandella in July for Australia and New Zealand. The firm would continue to make tiles in the Eastern States.
The roofing products maker was founded in WA in 1929 by Lance Brisbane. The company expanded east in the 1970s.
In the past year, Brickworks' subsidiary Austral Bricks has also cut back on production in WA because of the slump and the market entrance of Len Buckeridge's Brikmakers. In July, Austral closed one of its four WA brickmaking plants in Cardup. Mr Partridge said no further cutbacks in the State were required.
Brickworks' business was further hit in the last quarter by State building law changes holding up residential approvals."We hope WA will be one of the stronger markets going forward because of the low vacancy rates and strong employment growth," Mr Partridge said. "The market should improve over the next six to 12 months."
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