Ford axes UK van plant to stem losses as Europe crisis weighs

City A.M. Reporter
FORD will stop making vans in Britain next year, cutting 1,400 jobs on top of 4,300 to be axed in Belgium as part of a plan by the US car maker to stem European losses expected to exceed $1.5bn (£929.7m) this year.

It is the fourth vehicle plant closure in Europe announced this year and comes just a day after Ford itself said it would shut its 48-year-old Genk plant in Belgium by 2014, as part of a wide-ranging restructuring programme.

The company said the moves would reduce installed vehicle assembly capacity by 18 per cent, with related gross annual savings of $450-500m. Thirteen per cent of its European workforce would be affected by the restructuring.

Ford said despite the loss in Europe, total company pre-tax profit, excluding special items, was better in the third quarter than in the second and that over the long term, it was aiming for an operating margin of six to eight per cent in Europe.

Analysts at Morgan Stanley believe Ford is “demonstrating the vision and industrial courage” to make tough decisions that will pay off long term.

The US autos giant employs 11,400 at British sites which also include Halewood, near Liverpool, and Bridgend in South Wales.