Aston Martin announced at 2.00pm today that it is to cut a third of its UK workforce in a response to a slump in sales. The company, based in Gaydon, Warwickshire, said it today launched a consultation with the unions to cut 300 permanent jobs and 300 temporary posts – out of a total of 1850 employees.
The news is a reflection of the ongoing crisis in the auto industry. And it’s being felt acutely at top-end car makers: Aston’s UK sales crashed by a third in October and year to date they’re down by a quarter (the same fall as at UK rival Bentley).
Does this threaten new product?
Not at all, says Aston. It insists that it’s still ‘100% committed’ to its existing product plan, which includes new models such as the Rapide and the relaunch of the Lagonda brand. We asked a spokesman if the company might use the shake-up as an excuse to outsource more production to a third party (Magna Steyr will build the Rapide) and he insisted the company remained committed to manufacturing at Gaydon.
The job losses, which are under consultation at this stage, are likely to be across the board from manufacturing to back-room operations. Aston Martin said total production is likely to reach 6500 this year, compared with 7300 in 2007.
Dave Osborne, of the Unite union, said: 'This is devastating news for our members who have made major contributions to the Aston Martin brand. They now face a bleak Christmas.'
Chief executive Ulrich Bez said: 'Like other premium car brands, Aston Martin has been forced to take action to respond to the unprecedented downturn in the global economy. These are regrettable but necessary measures in the extraordinary market conditions we all now face.
'Overall we remain confident that the Aston Martin brand is the strongest it has ever been – with dedicated design, engineering and manufacturing facilities and an award-winning product range, we remain well positioned for the upturn in the economy.'
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