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Old 09-15-2004, 04:54   #1 (permalink)
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UK:Ford to discuss Jaguar plant fate

Ford to discuss Jaguar plant fate

BBC NEWS

US car giant Ford will sit down with trade unions on Friday to discuss the fate of its Jaguar plant in Coventry.

The Brown's Lane factory employs 2,000 people and is used to finish off XJ saloon cars and XK sports vehicles.

Jaguar has seen demand for its models drop in the US, a key market, and has been looking at how to reduce costs.

The company said that no decision had yet been taken on the fate of the Brown's Lane plant, but said it was considering all possible options.

"We don't want to discuss speculation," said Don Hume, a spokesman for Jaguar. "But we are in the process of developing a plan to secure Jaguar's long-term future. Nothing has been ruled out and nothing has been ruled in."

Domino effect

Ford recently mulled the idea of closing its Land Rover plant in Solihull, Birmingham, only to reach agreement with unions on a plan to make it more competitive and safeguard 8,000 jobs.

During those negotiations, Ford management said that they wanted to make Land Rover as competitive as the company's Jaguar operations within three years, and as competitive as other global car makers within five years.

Mr Hume said that Brown's Lane was "one of Ford's best plants in terms of quality."

However, demand for the top-of-the-range cars is down, dented by a weak dollar. The firm is having to rethink its strategy as a result, he said.

Jaguar cars are made at three sites in the UK and all have been producing at less than capacity. The other two plants are at Castle Bromwich, in the West Midlands, and Halewood on Merseyside.

Workers' representatives said that despite the recent problems they hoped an agreement could be reached.

"Ford would be foolish to contemplate closing a British plant on the back of relatively healthy sales figures," said Tony Murphy, a national officer of manufacturing union Amicus.

"We are happy to talk about any restructuring programme but we are equally happy to fight."

Ford reported a $362m second-quarter pretax loss for the Premier group, which includes Jaguar as well as Land Rover, Aston Martin and Volvo models.
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Old 09-15-2004, 06:20   #2 (permalink)
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Re: UK:Ford to discuss Jaguar plant fate

Jaguar to discuss UK plant future with staff

Reuters

LONDON -- Jaguar played down reports on Wednesday it was planning to close a key UK production plant but said it would meet workers this week to update them on the group's operations.

Jaguar, part of Ford Motor Co's stable of luxury brands, said it would meet staff and management at its Coventry plant, in central England, on Friday.

"Our situation at Jaguar has not changed at all. As we have discussed in the past, plans for the longer term future of Jaguar are being worked on," a Jaguar spokesman said.

He dismissed a Financial Times report the company would announce a restructuring plan on Friday that would close the Coventry plant and axe 2,000 jobs as "another wave of speculation".

However, the Transport & General Workers Union (TGWU) said it was concerned about the plant's future.

"We are certainly concerned. We are making it very clear if there are any plant closures announced, the TGWU will oppose them," a spokeswoman for the union said.

Without citing specific sources, the Financial Times said Jaguar would announce a restructuring plan on Friday which was expected to see the closure of the factory at Brown's Lane in Coventry.

The automaker's XJ sedan and XK sports car are made at the site which is Jaguar's corporate headquarters and main assembly plant.

Ford, which cut a deal with unions this month to save sport-utility vehicle maker Land Rover, faces falling Jaguar sales and overcapacity at the plants where the iconic British luxury cars are made.

It has said it wants to reduce Jaguar output by about 15,000 this year, but the largest union at Jaguar said in late August it had been assured no jobs would go.
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Old 09-16-2004, 07:23   #3 (permalink)
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Re: UK:Ford to discuss Jaguar plant fate

UK: Ford to close historic Jaguar Brown's Lane plant - report

Source: just-auto.com editorial team

US car giant Ford is expected to tell trade unions on Friday that it will close the historic Coventry factory of its luxury car subsidiary Jaguar, the BBC reported.

The Brown's Lane plant employs 2,000 people.

Bodies for the XJ sedan and XK sports series are welded and painted at Jaguar’s Castle Bromwich factory and trucked to the Coventry plant for trimming and finishing and then joined to engines made in Wales.

BBC business editor Jeff Randall claimed on the broadcaster's website that he had learned the closure is certain, and that production could move to the US.

Jaguar reportedly said no decision had been made yet, but said it was considering all possible options.

The BBC noted that Jaguar has seen demand for its models drop in the US, a key market, and has been looking at how to reduce costs. The brand has been responsible for huge losses across the company and probably cost Ford more than £100 million ($US178m) in the second quarter, according to Randall.

"My sources tell me that Brown's Lane is to go. This historic factory will close," Randall reportedly said.

But the company denied to the BBC that that a firm decision has been made.

"We don't want to discuss speculation," spokesman Don Hume said. "But we are in the process of developing a plan to secure Jaguar's long-term future. Nothing has been ruled out and nothing has been ruled in."

"Everything about the business is being discussed, everything. There is nothing off the table," Ford's chief operating officer Jim Padilla told the BBC from Detroit.

The BBC noted that Ford recently mulled the idea of closing its Land Rover plant in Solihull, Birmingham, only to reach agreement with unions on a plan to make it more competitive and safeguard 8,000 jobs.

During those negotiations, Ford management said that they wanted to make Land Rover as competitive as the company's Jaguar operations within three years, and as competitive as other global car makers within five years, the report added.

Hume reportedly said that Brown's Lane was "one of Ford's best plants in terms of quality." However, demand for the top-of-the-range cars is down, dented by a weak dollar. The firm is having to rethink its strategy as a result, he said.

"I still believe it's a very strong brand," Padilla told the BBC. "But it's a brand under a lot of stress right now."

Jaguar cars are made at three sites in the UK and all have been producing at less than capacity, the BBC said. The other two plants are at Castle Bromwich, on the outskirts of Birmingham in the West Midlands [XK and XJ bodies; S-type assembly], and Halewood [X-type] on Merseyside near Liverpool.

Critics say they should be made at one central plant instead, possibly abroad, the BBC added, noting that the dollar's current value against sterling makes it almost impossible to sell Jaguar cars in the US, which accounts for 50% of their market.

The radical answer may be to switch production to the US, a move that would enrage workers at the historical plant where Sir William Lyons founded Jaguar back in the 1950s, the BBC said.

Workers' representatives told the broadcaster that despite the recent problems they hoped an agreement could be reached.

"Ford would be foolish to contemplate closing a British plant on the back of relatively healthy sales figures," Tony Murphy, a national officer of manufacturing union Amicus, told the BBC. "We are happy to talk about any restructuring programme but we are equally happy to fight."

But a spokeswoman for the Transport & General Workers' Union was less confident of a happy outcome, according to the report.

"Unfortunately, the speculation is probably closer to the truth than we'd like," she reportedly said. "There is nothing confirmed, but we are quite fearful that job losses are a possibility."

Ford reported a $362 million second-quarter pre-tax loss for its Premier Automotive Group, which includes Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin and Volvo, the BBC noted.

Separately, the Birmingham Post reported that Jaguar sales of Jaguar cars in Europe have shrugged off the West Midland company's problems with its US market with registrations year-to-date up 35.1%.

Year-to-date Jaguar has sold 39,970 cars against 29,590 and last month they were up 35.9% at 2,167 against August last year at 1,594, the paper said.

The Post said the downturn for Jaguar due to the strong pound and the weak dollar in its important US market has led to the company taking 15,000 cars out of planned production up to the end of this year with its plants on short-time working.
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Old 09-17-2004, 06:03   #4 (permalink)
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Re: UK:Ford to discuss Jaguar plant fate

Ford to shut U.K. Jaguar factory

Slow sales, losses may cause 2,000 to lose jobs

Bloomberg News
Jaguar's 53-year-old plant builds the XJ sedan and the X8 coupe. The sales for both models have been below the automaker's expectations.

By Eric Mayne / The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. will notify Jaguar workers today that it plans to close one of its three plants in Britain, said company and union sources familiar with the plans.

Jaguar executives were scheduled to deliver the news during a meeting with union officials who represent Ford's roughly 8,000 Jaguar workers in Britain.

Ford is widely expected to announce the closure of its Browns Lane plant in Coventry, which employs 2,000 workers and builds the XK sports coupe and XJ luxury sedan.

The measure is designed to stem deep and continuing losses at Jaguar. Still, the restructuring is a painful blow for British auto industry and one of its proudest brands. The closure of Browns Lane in Coventry, the home of Jaguar, would be akin to Ford shuttering the Rouge plant in Dearborn.

"From a Coventry kid's point of view, which I am, Jaguar's a Coventry car. It's not a British car," said Roger Maddison, regional officer of AMICUS, one of two unions that represent Jaguar workers.

In the second-quarter, Ford's premium Jaguar, Aston Martin, Land Rover and Volvo brands racked up combined losses of $359 million, largely due to deep losses at Jaguar.

The British brand is hampered by falling global sales, excess factory capacity and uncompetitive operating costs.

Improving Jaguar's financial performance has become a major priority for Ford management because the four luxury brands, with help from Ford's Lincoln brand, are expected to contribute one-third of the automaker's $7 billion pre-tax profit target by 2006.

Under British law, Ford is required to give union officials advance notice of plans to close a factory. The law, which kicks in when 100 or more workers are involved, provides for a 90-day con*****tion period, during which affected workers may draft and submit a rescue plan.

"At the end of the 90 days, they have to make the decision, one way or the other," said Maddison. "Very often, the decision's been made."

The 53-year-old plant in Coventry became vulnerable because of slow sales of the XJ sedan and X8 coupe built, which forced Jaguar to reduce production at the plant to four days a week, Maddison said.

"Jaguar is currently turning out about 120,000 vehicles a year at three plants," said analyst David Healy of Burnham Securities. "That's about half the capacity of one full-size plant in the United States."

Jaguar's U.S. sales are down 11.5 percent this year.

Workers at a Jaguar research and development center near Browns Lane may also face cutbacks, Maddison said.

"There are so many rumors bombing about here," he said, adding some fear their jobs will be shipped to the United States.

The union hopes to convince (Jaguar) to make some changes in work rules and convince Ford to bring work inside rather than taking work away, Maddison said.
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