King Oscar will be left with one brisling sardine canning plant in Norway after the owners decided yesterday to close the King Oscar canning plant in Fusa, western Norway. The Fusa activities will be moved to Davanger, near Bergen, and Poland. A total of 69 workers will be laid off in the shut down.
King Oscar is owned by Norway Foods, which in turn is owned by Bergen-based Rieber & Son. When Norway Foods took over the sardine canning industry in 1981, there were 16 plants in operation in Norway; following a series of closures that began in 1991, only three remain. Norway Foods closed one plant in October 2000 and will now operate one plant in Norway.
High labour costs in Norway are said to be the main reason for closing the Fusa plant. Eighty-five per cent of the King Oscar sardine production is exported. A strong Norwegian currency does not help the situation, but was not the decisive factor, according to Bergens Tidende.
Riber & Son financial director Tor Lund estimated that Norway Foods would save between NKr8-12 million (€1.1-1.6m) by moving its remaining activities to Davanger and Poland. Production in Fusa will cease sometime during the first half of next year. The Davanger plant will need to increase its number of employees by 10 to 20 and Fusa workers will be offered jobs there.