Just three weeks after Jaguar Land Rover posted a 1.3 per cent growth in sales for the month of December, the firm has announced it'll be cutting 10 per cent of jobs from its Halewood plant. The manufacturer, which expects around 500 workers to take up an "enhanced voluntary redundancy" offer, said the move was to "optimise performance, enable sustainable growth and safeguard the long-term success of [the] business". Despite the positive end to the year, 2019 saw its combined sales decline by 5.9 per cent.
JLR's fortunes were largely driven by the Chinese economy's tribulations in 2019, meaning that resurgent growth there is likely to have a positive effects. Nevertheless, as part of a wider streamlining drive, the company has decided to switch its Halewood plant, which produces the PTA-based Evoque and Discovery Sport, from a three to "two-plus" shift pattern from April - a move the firm said will maintain a sustainable supply of cars while delivering "significant operating efficiencies". It emphasises that the changes are not related to any loss of volume.
Lets hope that last line provides some relief to the firm's remaining employees, especially in as JLR was attempting to find £2.5bn in savings in the aftermath of diesel's collapse. Prior to 2019, a staggering 90 per cent of JLR cars were being powered by diesel engines. JLR expects much better things for 2020, driven by the arrival of its all-new Defender alongside a refreshed F-Type.
Ongoing investment into electric technology does also slowly seem to be paying off, with the I-Pace representing a tenth of Jaguar sales in 2019 - although with 15,000 sales of the model, that arguably illustrates the brand's wider struggle. Of course it does have a new XJ on the way to cement its electric ambitions. Let's hope the forced changes at Halewood are the last of the unpleasant announcements.