Monday 13 May 2019 12:03 am

Ford gears up to announce up to 550 job losses for UK office workers amid turnaround efforts

Ford is poised to announce as many as 550 job cuts in the coming weeks as part of a major restructuring programme, City A.M. has learnt.

Read more: Ford casts further doubt over future of its UK operations post-Brexit

The second-biggest car maker in the US is expected to make the reductions among office workers at its Essex base, who work on matters including vehicle development.

The announcement is not expected to impact its UK manufacturing employees who work at factories in Dagenham, Bridgend or Halewood, of whom there are around 5,000.

Ford is in the midst of a global turnaround effort, including a plan to streamline its European operations which reported a modest $57m (£43.9m) first-quarter profit last month. As part of the strategy, it announced in March it would reduce its 24,000 strong workforce in Germany by 5,000 people, including temporary staff.

At the same time, Ford said it would also offer voluntary redundancies to some of its workers in the UK to “help accelerate the [turnaround] plan and return to sustainable profitability”, but did not say how many people would be affected.

A source with knowledge of the matter told City A.M. this number would be “around 500 to 550”, and it would be among the company’s “white collar, salaried employees” including those in management positions.

A Ford spokesperson said: “We have confirmed a voluntary separation programme for salaried employees in the UK but we have not confirmed numbers at this time.”

City A.M. understands the move is not directly related to Britain leaving the European Union, but Brexit is the biggest headwind currently facing automotive firms with manufacturing operations in the UK.

If the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal and falls back on World Trade Organisation rules, output is forecast to fall around 30 per cent to 1.07m units, consistent with production levels in the mid-1980s.

Read more: Ford's Europe head says a no-deal Brexit would be an 'absolute disaster'

As well as the European job cuts, chief executive Jim Hackett’s plan to turn the automotive giant around has included investing $500m in US electric truck company Rivian, forming an alliance with Europe’s biggest car maker Volkswagen and withdrawing from the Russian market.