Potential Irish losses as hardware design company PCH sheds 1,500 jobs

Irish hardware design company PCH may cut some Cork-based roles as part of efforts to shed 1,500 jobs globally.

The Cork-headquartered company has announced a voluntary redundancy programme which will affect up to 1,500 employees, predominantly in China.

A number of support roles will also be lost, however, according to company founder and chief executive Liam Casey.

Mr Casey said yesterday that there could be job losses at its Cork office where about 30 staff are employed but said that he “wouldn’t want to speculate on that just yet” as PCH is concentrating on dealing with the Chinese redundancy package first.

The move comes as PCH looks to reposition itself as a leader in areas such as the internet of things, wearables, and connected products for health, beauty, and luxury sectors.

“One of the great things we’re seeing is established large brands that are category leaders in their own sectors but they’re for non-tech products. A lot of those companies are looking at how do they enable their products to be internet of things-enabled.

“For us, the amount of interaction and the quality of client coming to us is what’s really prompting us to be able to take advantage of these opportunities,” said Mr Casey.

PCH has already made significant progress in these high-growth areas thanks to the establishment of its innovation hub in San Francisco as well as through the acquisition of product development company, Lime Lab.

“This is the right time to make this change to support our long-term profitable growth. Although this is a tough decision, it supports our strategy to diversify our business and customer portfolio and grow profitably in the connected hardware space.

“PCH has made significant strategic investments — in the acquisition of PCH Lime Lab, building up premier hardware accelerator Highway1, and establishing a San Francisco Innovation Hub — to attract global brands and globally-focused tech startups operating in the connected hardware sector.

“As a result of these investments, PCH has cultivated a diverse set of new customers who partner with us because of our extensive and specialised experience in delivering sophisticated products and the custom supply chains to support them,” Mr Casey said.

The layoffs, which will largely affect its packaging business in China, is a further sign of its move away from commodity manufacturing which has been the backbone of the company for years.

The redundancy programme will see PCH’s global headcount fall from 2,100 to 600 with about half of the remaining staff based in China.

“[High-volume manufacturing is] a business we would have taken on a couple of years ago because it would have been attractive to us at the time.

"But with our increased engineering in San Francisco and our earlier engagement with customers, it’s just not right for the profile of our business and the economics just don’t work and we’ve made a decision that that’s a piece of business that we want to get out of.”

The voluntary redundancy programme comes months after PCH left 250 workers go in China at the end of February. At the time, Mr Casey ruled out further job losses, saying the company was “doing it all at once”.


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