Ford decides to shut two British facilities

Ford decides to shut two British facilities

FRANKFURT - Agence France-Presse
Ford decides to shut two British facilities

An employee at Ford’s Southampton production facility reveals his t-shirt. REUTERS photo

U.S. auto giant Ford said yesterday it plans to close two sites in Britain, an assembly plant in Southampton and a stamping and tooling facility in Dagenham, in 2013 with the loss of some 1,400 jobs.

Ford, which had announced the closure of a factory in Genk, Belgium, with the loss of 4,300 jobs a day earlier, said in a statement that the closure of all three facilities would affect some “5,700 hourly and salaried employees” in all.

Adding to previously announced plans to axe 500 jobs across Europe, the cuts will bring the total number of jobs on the line to 6,200, equivalent to 13 percent of Ford’s European workforce.

The move is part of a massive shake-up of Ford’s European operations aimed at steering them back to profit amid falling demand in the region, Ford said.

The group’s European operations are expected to run up a loss in excess of $1.5 billion this year, Ford said.

The reorganization is expected to reduce vehicle assembly capacity by 18 percent or 355,000 units and yield gross annual savings of $450-500 million.

 “We will address the crisis in Europe with a laser focus on new products, a stronger brand and increased cost efficiency,” said Ford president and chief executive Alan Mulally.

“We recognize the impact our actions will have on many employees and their families in Europe, and we will work together with all stakeholders during this necessary transformation of our business.”

Stephen Odell, chairman and CEO of Ford Europe, said: “The European market holds potential for profitable growth if we accelerate product development and move decisively to address our costs and overcapacity.” The Southampton plant currently builds Ford’s Transit vans.

Only the stamping and tooling operations at Dagenham will be affected, while the factory will build a new diesel engine for Ford vehicles from 2016, the company said.

Ford said it hoped to achieve the job cuts in Britain via voluntary means.