the agri-food group Cofigeo shuts down four of its factories – RT in French

Faced with soaring energy bills, the Cofigeo group, owner of the William Saurin and Garbit brands, decided to suspend production on several of its sites and placed two thirds of its employees on technical unemployment.

From January 2, the activity of the William Saurin plant in Saint-Thibault-des-Vignes (Seine-et-Marne), as well as that of other sites, is officially suspended by the management of the Cofigeo group, owner of the brand of ready meals but also of Garbit and Zapetti, because of the rise in the price of energy, reports The Parisian.

A tenfold energy bill

If the activity had been maintained, “our annual bill would have increased from 4 to 40 million euros for all of our sites”, calculated the management, noting that “it was no longer economically viable”. According to the daily, the situation has been difficult for Cofigeo since the expiry of its annual energy contracts in October: when it was necessary to subscribe to new ones, the prices offered were no longer “in the proportions known historically”, so that the Seine-et-Marnaise factory has a very high electricity and gas consumption, if only to sterilize the products.

In addition to soaring energy prices, “the health crisis, the weather of the past two summers and the conflict in Ukraine have led to a sharp increase in the price of beef, pork, tomatoes, etc.”, detailed the direction to the Parisian.

Nationally, the group, which also owns the Zapetti or Raynal and Roquelaure brands, has decided to temporarily close four of its eight sites: Saint-Thibault, but also Capdenac (Aveyron), Pouilly-sur-Serre (Aisne ) and Camaret-sur-Aigues (Vaucluse), which represent 80% of its production. Management had already announced these closures in December, citing “a breaking point” linked to the explosion of energy bills.

These stops concern 800 employees out of 1,200, a long-term partial activity agreement (APLD) having been negotiated by the unions and management for the whole of January. Employees only receive 77% of their gross remuneration during this period. “On a low salary, it represents a loss of 170 euros for the month of January,” told France Info Jocelyn Prophet, CFDT delegate of the group.

If the group’s management is counting on a reopening “as soon as possible”, it has not set a precise date for the resumption of activity. “What we are going through is not a William Saurin problem but that of all industrialists!”, Worried with the Parisian Frédéric Gaffet, CGT representative within Cofigeo, suggesting that other companies could be called upon to make decisions of this type in the months to come.

The government has extended until December 2023, by a decree adopted at the end of the year, aid to companies aimed at partially offsetting the surge in energy costs. However, these measures are far from sufficient for certain sectors and professionals, as evidenced in particular by the shutdown of Duralex production lines and several canneries across France. Industries are not the only companies affected by the surge in their energy bills, craftsmen such as bakers or butchers also suffering the brunt of a surge in their costs that is much higher than aid.


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