Wimco Limited, Asia’s first matchstick manufacturing company, announced on Tuesday that its Ambarnath factory had officially closed down.
The remaining 238 workers accepted voluntary retirement under the Voluntary Retirement Scheme.
Rajiv Sawant, general manager of the factory said, “The rising prices of raw materials and competition from small scale industries are the main reasons for the shut down.”
The factory, which was established in 1923 at Ambarnath, had been declared sick in 2001 and has since suffered deep losses. “Earlier, wood was easily available at a cheaper cost. But now with the strict rules of the environmental department, it has become very difficult to get wood at a reasonable rate,” Samant said.
The factory did try to find alternate ways to manufacture the matchsticks.
“We tried to used plastic to manufacture the matchsticks but it proved to be unsafe and the production cost was also very high,” Samant said.
Small-scale industries also spelt doom for the factory.
“In Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu, manufacturing matchboxes has become a small-scale industry. The government provided them with subsidies and our company was unable to compete with them,” Samant said. The company had closed down its Chennai unit last year.