Worrying sounds at Group Lotus overnight, as the Norfolk sports car maker announced a restructure which ‘may involve the loss of up to 325 jobs.’ Lotus employs some 1200 staff around the world.
It’s the latest shock in the Lotus saga. This is a company familiar with roller coaster ups and downs - a pattern that’s sadly been repeated for several decades now, as different owners come and go, as the world’s economy shines or rains on sports car demand.
Lotus restructure: why it’s happening
Hethel confirmed a global restructure and said it needed ‘to reshape its organisation and reduce costs.’
The bulk of the job losses are likely to come from the car-making division in Potash Lane, Norfolk, where 1000 of its staff are based.
A statement said: ‘The company wants to ensure that it has the right organisational structure in place to achieve its business goals and to build a strong, sustainable future. Regrettably, it is likely that compulsory job losses will be needed to ensure that the company has the right number of people with the right skills.’
Lotus is consulting with staff and unions, but it seems inevitable that hundreds of jobs will go as a result of weak sales of its sports car range.
Traditionally, Group Lotus has enjoyed strong revenues from its engineering division, which works for many of the world’s biggest car makers.
But the car-making division has struggled, as demand for cars such as the Elise and Evora has yo-yo’ed over the years. Former CEO Dany Bahar’s plan to relaunch Lotus with a range of five new sports cars famously crashed and burned and he was squeezed out by parent group DRB-Hicom, which has now installed former PSA bigwig Jean-Marc Gales as boss.
Lotus’s CEO on the proposed job cuts
‘We understand the concerns that this proposal will create. We deeply regret the potential impact any reshaping of the business may have on our employees and their families.
‘We have worked very hard to avoid the need to make the proposal, but do believe that it is now essential. It is in no way a reflection on our employees who have shown nothing but dedication to us and have worked tirelessly to support Lotus.
‘Once the reshaping has been undertaken, and with its strong and experienced management team, Lotus should be a leaner, more competitive organisation, focusing on both producing class-leading sports cars and innovative engineering. We will also build upon the improved sales results seen over the last few months.’
They’ll have their work cut out. In the first eight months of 2014, Lotus sold just 153 cars - mostly Elises - in the UK, traditionally its strongest marketplace.
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