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Cooper Standard plans to downsize European operation

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NOVI, Mich.—Cooper Standard Automotive Inc. plans to downsize its European manufacturing footprint and shuffled the roles of two executive staff members.

Cooper Standard Holdings Inc., Cooper Standard's parent company, said the restructuring effort is to improve its European capability by removing excess capacity, improving cost structure and shifting some production to its Eastern European facilities.

The firm still is evaluating how many employees and what facilities will be affected by the move.

Cooper Standard also reassigned Allen J. Campbell to a newly created position of executive vice president, chief infrastructure officer.

Matthew W. Hardt will fill Campbell's prior position of executive vice president, chief financial officer.

“Given our forecasted growth, especially in Asia, it is important to have the appropriate infrastructure in place to support our global business,” Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Edwards said in a statement.

“Allen's expertise with Cooper Standard business systems, experience leading the global IT organization and knowledge gained from his considerable Asia experience throughout his career make him the ideal candidate to lead this effort.”

Two-year plan

Cooper Standard said its European restructuring is projected to cost about $120 million over the next three years. The firm projects about $50 million in annual savings after its expected completion in 2017.

The plan will include closures or downsizing certain facilities with high costs and unutilized capacity in Western Europe. While Cooper Standard did not specify what plants or the number of employees that would be affected, it highlighted Germany and France in its release as countries that could be impacted.

The company operates five locations in Germany and four in France. Keith Stephenson, executive vice president and chief operating officer, said in an email that Cooper Standard still is evaluating which facilities will be impacted based on customer needs.

The executive said the firm's new facility in Serbia can accommodate relocated production, but Cooper Standard still is deciding what production will be transferred. Many of the firm's facilities in Western Europe have underutilized capacity because customers have moved their footprint east, Stephenson said.

“Restoring our competitive position in Europe is critical to our strategy of driving profitable growth and becoming a top 30 global automotive supplier,” Edwards said in a statement.

“A healthy European business also is essential to ensuring that Cooper Standard is properly positioned to support our local and global customers.”

New roles in March

Hardt joined Cooper Standard on Feb. 2 as executive vice president and will transition into the CFO role effective March 2, when Campbell moves into his new role stationed in the Asia-Pacific region, the company said. Hardt will be located at the firm's headquarters in Novi.

Campbell will ensure the financial, business process and information technology systems are aligned to support the growth of the company—especially in the Asia-Pacific region—Cooper said.

He has been with Cooper Standard since 1998, and served as CFO since 2004.

Prior to being named CFO, Campbell served as vice president of Asian operations in 2003 and from 1999-2003 was vice president, Finance Division. Before joining Cooper Standard, Campbell spent 18 years with the Dow Chemical Co., holding executive finance positions in both the U.S. and Canada.

Hardt brings more than 25 years of financial experience to Cooper Standard, most recently serving as senior vice president, finance for the Industrial Solutions Division at TE Connectivity Ltd. Prior to joining TE, he served in multiple roles of increasing responsibility at General Electric Co., including CFO for a number of the firm's global divisions.

“We are pleased to have Matt join the Cooper Standard team, as he is well-positioned to lead the financial functions of our growing global enterprise,” Edwards said in a statement. “In addition to his broad global financial experience and expertise, Matt is a Master Black Belt in Six Sigma and has successfully applied Six Sigma practices to help create world-class global finance organizations.”

Cooper Standard is a global supplier of systems and components for the automotive industry with core products including sealing, fuel and brake delivery, fluid transfer, and anti-vibration systems.

The firm employs more than 27,000 people worldwide with operations in 20 countries and reported 2013 sales of $3.1 billion and net income of $47.9 million.