Sports car maker TVR announced today that its Blackpool factory will close, with the loss of 260 jobs. But the company vows that the brand will live on though, with production moving overseas.
The workforce was told the news this morning (Wednesday 18). The announcement is a massive u-turn from TVR boss Nikolai Smolenski, the 26-year-old businessman who bought the firm in 2004. Just two months ago, Smolenski stated TVR would move to a state-of-the-art facility on Blackpool Business Park in 2008. But with the lease on the current 'outdated' premises expiring at the end of September, TVR was due to be housed in a 200,000 sq ft interim location at Squires Gate, Blackpool. However, this arrangement fell foul of health and safety regulations, said a spokeswoman, prompting the u-turn and a search for an overseas production facility.
'It's not the end for TVR, but it is the end for TVR in Blackpool,' said the spokeswoman. 'The company is in negotiations with more than one foreign location. It's likely that the new facility will be in Europe.' Smolenski told CAR (August 2006 issue) that the Blackpool plant was 'outdated', but vowed that he wanted to keep the 59-year-old brand in its home town. The company has yet to clarify the thinking behind the decision, but expect lower labour costs overseas to have been a factor.
TVR has had a tough year. Production has fallen below the annual break-even point of 500 to 600 cars. An anonymous TVR dealer told CAR Online: 'Our business has suffered because no-one has known TVR's intentions. Now the plan has been announced, they have to see it through and secure us a stable future. But we are very sorry for all the guys in Blackpool – it's the end of an era.' TVR claims it will honour any orders and will be able to supply parts. However, the dealer confirmed that delivery of 2007 model year cars would not begin until March next year – and that was before the announcement about shipping production abroad.