After 85 years, the furnaces were switched off last week as the Phoenicia America-Israel flat glass factory in the Zipporit Industrial Zone near Nazareth closed down. The coronavirus crisis was the final nail in the coffin of the struggling company and also meant that the factory's 300 employees lost their jobs without being able to put up a fight.
Phoenicia America-Israel workers committee chairman Haim Cesari recalls that two months ago, CEO Eyal Zagagi explained that the factory would have to close if the government refused a NIS 30 million grant and to restrict cheaper glass imports from Turkey. Cesari said, "We were going to mount a protest campaign and then the virus came along."
Zagigi says, "Despite everything, the prices and the gas and the shekel and transport costs, we succeeded. We export 50% of our produce and our glass is considered the best in the world. And then the coronavirus came along. In January, February and March we sold NIS 4 million per month. In April sales plummeted to NIS 1.8 million."
With no new funds coming from either the government or the Fortissimo private equity fund, which bought Phoenicia in 2012 and has not been able to turnaround its fortunes, Phoenicia, which was founded in 1934 and moved from Haifa to Zipporit in 1993, had no choice but to close.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on May 24, 2020
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