UK:Jaguar boss: Browns Lane had to go
Jaguar boss: Browns Lane had to go
Jaguar's decision to cut more than 1,100 jobs and end car production at the historic Browns Lane plant in Coventry was crucial to the company's survival, according to chairman and chief executive Joe Greenwell.
To have carried on producing 120,000 cars a year at three plants was a "recipe for the end of Jaguar", he told MPs on the Trade and Industry select committee yesterday. The situation was now so difficult that "unless we follow this path, the future viability of the company is at risk, as are the jobs of 8,000 people".
Jaguar announced in September that it was switching Browns Lane's car production to its Castle Bromwich plant in Birmingham as it battled to stem escalating losses.
Yesterday Mr Greenwell said the Browns Lane employees were "an exemplary workforce" and that all of Jaguar's UK plants were well up the global league table when measured against those of parent company Ford.
But he said Jaguar had been hit because of its growth strategy which had meant doubling the number of models and platforms but had been unable to deliver. Instead of hitting its sales target of about 144,000, the company was selling some 120,000 vehicles a year, leaving it with a dangerous mismatch between revenues and costs. "We may have been optimistic," Mr Greenwell told MPs.
Union leaders responded angrily to Mr Greenwell's remarks. Derek Simpson, general secretary of Amicus, said: "It's clear that Ford have made some serious strategic errors. They have set some unreachable targets and it is the workers who are paying the price."
Tony Woodley, general secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union, said: "This is a case of poor management leading a world-class workforce into oblivion."
Mr Greenwell said Jaguar had been hit by fierce competition in the luxury market. Coupled with the slump in the value of the dollar against the pound, the battle for sales meant that Jaguar margins had taken a beating.
Mr Greenwell denied Jaguar was being asked to accept bigger sacrifices than other companies within the Ford empire. It was "performing poorly", he said. "There is no quick fix. It will take two or three years to stabilise the business."
Mr Greenwell denied union claims of further heavy job losses. The Whitley design centre would remain "at the heart" of product development and there were no plans to move production to the US to remove exchange rate risk. However he refused to give "unqualified guarantees" that there would be no further cuts.
My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.
My next Ford.....