The Ukraine war hits the glassmaker of the James Bond films

French tableware brand Duralex joins a growing number of European companies cutting and halting production as energy costs skyrocket from the Russian war in Ukraine.

At the glass factory in central France, workers are preparing to put the furnace on standby for at least four months when the company shuts down production.

The 77-year-old company counts generations of French schoolchildren, Mongolian yak herders and Afghan diners among the worldwide users of its glasses, bowls and plates.


A worker inspects a bowl at French glassmaker Duralex’s factory in La Chapelle Saint-Mesmin, central France (AP)

Actor Daniel Craig drank from one of the company’s Picardie mugs while playing James Bond in Skyfall.

Duralex’s thundering machines, which transform glowing gobs of molten glass into hundreds of thousands of tableware items every day, will fall silent on November 1st.

Company president Jose-Luis Llacuna is taking radical but, he hopes, business-saving measures to shut down production.

Mr Llacuna said in an interview at the plant outside Orleans in central France: “The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is look at the daily changes in electricity and gas prices.

“Needless to say, there is incredible volatility. It really is a rollercoaster ride and the prospects for the future are completely unknown.”


Duralex CEO Jose Luis Llacuna (AP)

With risks of power shortages, rationing and blackouts if demand surges this winter, and an expected recession if businesses shut down, Europe is scrambling for energy alternatives, hoarding gas supplies and urging consumers to save. European Union energy ministers are holding emergency talks on the bloc’s latest proposals to ease the crisis.

At Duralex, the cost of heating the furnace to over 1,400°C with roaring streams of flaming gas and turning the molten glass into tableware on production lines manned by sweating workers is expected to burn away 40% of the company’s sales if it keeps producing,” which is unsustainable,” Mr. Llacuna said.

The production shutdown will last at least four months. The glass furnace cannot be switched off completely, as this could destroy it. Instead, it’s kept in a hot sleep, cutting the company’s energy consumption in half. The goal is to then light it back up to the spring.

In the meantime, the 250 employees will work fewer days, salaries will fall while inflation gnaws at household coffers.


Duralex joins a growing number of European companies reducing and shutting down production due to rising energy costs (AP)

“It’s very hard to take,” said Michel Carvalho, a production line crew chief who has been with the company for 17 years.

“Everyone around the world is suffering from this war,” he said. “We are hostages. Absolutely. We’re being used. Because it’s hard to be asked to stop work. And we are not responsible for what happens.”

Duralex will draw on its stock levels to supply customers during the shutdown. But competitors are circling, using the stoppage as an argument to try to poach the company’s customers, Mr Llacuna said.

He is knocking on government doors for financial help and spoke to France’s economy minister over the phone last week.

A prolonged energy crisis, Mr Llacuna warned, could be grim.

“It can’t take three years,” he said. “Because then the European industry will die, and that will be dramatic.” The Ukraine war hits the glassmaker of the James Bond films

Fry Electronics Team

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