Car manufacturer Ford is to close its Southampton plant which employs around 500 people as it restructures its European operations.

Trade union members have been advised to the closure and asked to attend meetings at the company’s Laindon Technical Centre, near Basildon, Essex.

Official figures show that the Southampton operation was responsible for 28,000 Transit vans last year, down from 66,000 in 2008.

In a statement issued by Ford Europe, Stephen Odell, chairman and chief executive, said that the move was necessary for the business to get back on track.

He explained: “The proposed restructuring of our European manufacturing operations is a fundamental part of our plan to strengthen Ford’s business in Europe and to return to profitable growth.”

Southampton is not the only plant affected by Ford’s decision to begin a European restructuring programme.

Yesterday, the company also informed staff it was closing its plant in Gent, Belgium in 2014.

Commentators suggest that, once the mandatory consultation concludes, up to 4,500 jobs will go with a further 5,000 more at risk including subcontractors.

Ford Europe boss Odell added: “We understand the impact this potential action would have on our work force in Genk, their families, our suppliers and the local communities.

“We fully recognize and accept our social responsibilities in this difficult situation and, if the restructuring plan is confirmed, we will ensure that we put in place measures and support to lessen the impact for all employees affected.”

When Insolvency Today conducted its last automotive review in the second quarter of 2012, it found new car registrations in Europe were at their lowest figure since 1998.

In March, Fiat Group confirmed car sales down 25.8{06aeb1921e0b802d2bd9c766bc98fb11cc6a46c2b0593ed9c88a0e29cf417a34}, Renault posted a 20.4{06aeb1921e0b802d2bd9c766bc98fb11cc6a46c2b0593ed9c88a0e29cf417a34} decline and Ford noted a drop in sales of 7.6{06aeb1921e0b802d2bd9c766bc98fb11cc6a46c2b0593ed9c88a0e29cf417a34}.


Source: Insolvency News