Inspections group SGS to slim workforce

SGS’s cereals lab in Guelph at its official opening in 2016. (

Geneva | Reuters — Swiss inspections group SGS plans to trim its workforce by 2,000 across about 120 countries in a process of natural attrition rather than sudden cuts or corporate restructuring, company spokesman Daniel Rufenacht said on Thursday.

CEO Frankie Ng was earlier quoted by Swiss newspapers Handelszeitung and Tribune de Geneve as saying an analyst report that the company could shed 2,000-3,000 of its 97,000 jobs seemed quite realistic, adding that the actual figure would probably be toward the lower end of that range.

The impact on SGS’s Geneva base would be minimal, he was quoted as saying.

“It’s not a restructuring, it’s a streamlining of the organization,” Rufenacht told Reuters.

He said natural turnover in the workforce meant that about 14,000 people left the company of their own accord each year, giving an opportunity to reduce overall numbers without any sudden cuts.

Shares in SGS, which provides services to the agriculture, minerals and oil, gas and chemicals industries, were down 4.6 per cent at 2,418 Swiss francs (C$3,204.80) Thursday morning after half-year results showed adjusted operating income up 5.4 per cent year on year, at 489 million francs.

SGS has operated in Canada since 1948, starting in agriculture and expanding into energy, metals, minerals and other sectors, offering testing and analysis, data gathering, audit, certification, inspection, verification, pest control and fumigation services.

Its Canadian business today includes its head office in Mississauga and over 40 labs and offices across eight provinces and Yukon.

Its agricultural business today also includes three SGS BioVision Seed Research labs, in Grande Prairie and Sherwood Park, Alta. and in Winnipeg, all of which came to SGS when it took over BioVision Seed Research in 2017.

— Reporting for Reuters by Tom Miles in Geneva. Includes files from Glacier FarmMedia Network staff.

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