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Closing Factories the French Way: A Long, Painful Demise

  • Renault considers future of French plants as part of cost plan
  • Government has history of intervening to prevent shutdowns
Workers and union members protest outside the Renault SA auto plant in Maubeuge, on May 30.
Workers and union members protest outside the Renault SA auto plant in Maubeuge, on May 30.Photographer: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Bloomberg
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On purely business grounds, Renault SA could do without its plant in Maubeuge.

Like its sister factory, 75 kilometers (47 miles) away in Douai, the plant opened nearly half a century ago as part of a government effort to stem the decline of France’s northern industrial coal belt. Production at the two sites is now at just a fraction of their combined capacity.