Contrary to media reports on Monday, the Merseyside factory is operating this week ahead of a scheduled Easter shutdown as it fulfils orders for the new Evoque model. Tony McDonough reports
Jaguar Land Rover’s factory in Halewood on Merseyside has not shut down production this week due to Brexit uncertainty, contrary to media reports.
Although the plant, which employs more than 4,000 people assembling the Evoque and Discovery Sport models, is not operating at full capacity this week, there is still production of vehicles taking place.
JLR had originally planned to shut down production in the week following March 29, the original deadline for Britain to leave the EU. But that deadline has been extended and so most employees at the plant are in as normal.
A JLR spokesperson told LBN: “We are running running production this week as we have customer orders to fulfil on the new Evoque model. On days where there is no production people will be taking part in training or other activities.”
The Halewood factory will stop production for a scheduled Easter shutdown from Monday, April 15, and will resume normal production on Wednesday April 24. Arrangements for other JLR factories in the West Midlands will vary.
JLR has also released full-year sales figures which showed total global sales in the year to March 31 of 578,915 vehicles – 5.8% down on the previous year, largely thanks to weaker demand in China where sales plummeted 34%. In Europe the fall was 4.5%.
On a brighter note, retail sales were up 8.1% in North America which marked its best ever full fiscal year and ninth consecutive year of growth. Volumes were also up 8.4% in the UK and 2.4% in overseas markets.
JLR said it is taking “decisive steps” to address the weaker Chinese market demand, including working with its local retailers to improve customer experience and create a sustainable model.
The company, owned by Indian industrial giant Tata, has begun its “transformation” programme which aims to achieve £2.5bn of cash and profit improvement by March 2020. In January the company confirmed it would reduce its global workforce by 4,500 people, starting with a voluntary redundancy programme in its UK operations.
It has invested £110m in the Halewood plant to enable it to produce the new Evoque model.
Felix Brautigam, JLR’s chief commercial officer, said: “Despite a challenging time for us and the automotive industry, we were able to deliver growth in three of our five regions.
“In North America, the UK and overseas we posted solid growth on the back of strong demand for our exciting product line-up, achieving record sales and outpacing industry trends in many markets.
“Although the trading environment in Europe was weak due to uncertainty over diesel and the transition to WLTP regulations, our European teams also held their competitive position.
“Clearly we were disappointed by the lower sales in China. However, together with our retailers we decided not to push sales ‘at any cost’ to ensure that our brands remain desirable.
“Mid-term we remain optimistic about the region, particularly as we are starting to see results of our local turnaround strategy, with retails expected to stabilise in the next few months and grow thereafter.”