By Ucilia Wang
The company said it’s laying off 60 people, and another 200 of its remaining employees are working shorter hours to save costs. Oerlikon Solar had about 850 employees by the end of 2008. The company produces factory equipment for making thin-film solar panels.
The company, part of the Oerlikon Group, said it also didn’t win “any significant new orders” during the first quarter and has seen customers delaying orders and expansion plans because of the economic downturn. It stressed that it isn’t cutting spending on research and development.
During the first quarter, Oerlion Solar received new orders totaling 11 million Swiss francs ($9.54 million), down 40 percent from a year ago. The amount of total orders reached 390 million Swiss francs ($338.27 million), down 3 percent.
Oerlikon Solar expects business to improve by the second half of 2009. Negotiations taking place now could lead to at least one large equipment order by then, said Uwe Krüger, CEO of Oerlikon Group.
The downbeat news isn’t surprising. Many solar companies in different market segments, from silicon suppliers to panel makers, have had to layoff staff and scale back factory plans. Some could go out of business soon (see Silicon Producer SilPro Teeters On Bankruptcy).
Oerlikon Solar’s chief competitor, Applied Materials (AMAT), said two months ago that it didn’t expect to see new orders for a few quarters. Earlier this month, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company said one of its customers had slashed its contract from $1.9 billion to $250 million.