Asikkala (13.10.1998 - Lauri Muranen**) Rapala is transferring its labour intensive production stages from Asikkala in Finland to Estonia. The company currently employs about 60 workers at its Estonian factory in Pärnu. As Rapala's production grows and natural wastage reduces the number of staff in Asikkala, the company is employing more workers in Pärnu.

Production manager Juhani Pehkonen refers to a transfer of 40 jobs within two years as the rate of job reductions in Asikkala and job increases in Pärnu.

"At the moment we have about 240 employees in Asikkala. In two years we shall still have more than 200 jobs." Pehkonen emphasises that the reduction will be based entirely on natural wastage.

He pledges that the Asikkala plant will continue to be the group's main factory. "Nobody has questioned this at any stage."

The most demanding aspects of wobbler production will continue to be concentrated in Asikkala. Semifinished wobblers will be sent for further processing to factories in Estonia and Ireland.

The fate of Rapala jobs in Asikkala has recently been under discussion as the Rapala Group is in the process of becoming a listed company. In its stock market brochure the company says that it is considering redeployment of labour intensive operations in order to increase cost effectiveness.

The factory in Pärnu was opened in January 1997 as labour costs in Estonia are much lower than those in Finland and Ireland.

About a third of the Rapala group's 765 employees work in Asikkala while the rest are abroad. Group turnover in 1997/98 was FIM 577 million (FIM 1.0 = USD 0.2) and its operating profit was FIM 123 million.

The Rapala group has plans to purchase a trollmaking company in Mexico. Elsewhere in Latin America and in Asia the group will increase its marketing efforts and is currently seeking new sales personnel.

* Originally published in Päijät-Häme, the local newspaper of Asikkala, where Rapala has its roots and main factory.

** The writer Lauri Muranen is Editor-in-Chief of Päijät-Häme.

© Lauri Muranen