600 jobs to go and two factories to close at GKN
The West Midlands automotive sector was dealt another devastating blow after GKN revealed the loss of 600 jobs and two factory closures across the region.
The group’s Hamstead forge facility in Great Barr is to close by the end of the year while its car parts factory in Aldridge will shut by the middle of 2010. A further 150 jobs will be lost at its plant in Telford as the downturn continues to wreak havoc across the regional auto industry.
The firm said its Erdington plant – the former Hardy Spicer factory – would lose 84 jobs because of reduced volumes, but its future would be safeguarded as a “single centre of excellence,” with £7million of investment over the next three years.
In all, 102 jobs will go at Great Barr, 264 at Aldridge, 150 at Telford and 84 at Erdington.
GKN Automotive Chief Executive Nigel Stein said the actions were "regrettable but absolutely necessary to respond to the global economic downturn”.
He added: “We are in unprecedented times and we must protect our position as a leading global automotive supplier and ensure we are in a strong position to meet our customers’ needs now and when markets recover.”
The group also announced plans to reduce headcount by 91 in its aerospace division. This includes the loss of 56 jobs as a result of the closure of the Aerospace Services site in Burnley and 35 in Luton.
These all form part of the £120million restructuring costs announced by GKN at the end of January.
A GKN spokesman said the Great Barr facility – which produces driveshaft components – dated back to 1938.
“GKN worldwide has newer forges in continental Europe, which are closer to customers," he said.
The Aldridge facility, established in the area in the 1940s, makes propshafts for Jaguar Land Rover, Chrysler, Fiat and Renault. The Telford factory produces chassis systems for JLR and others.
At Erdington, the spokesman said the new investment would create around 100 new jobs in around 18 months time but the firm was seeking to cut costs urgently in the wake of the recession.
The Chester Road facility supplies driveshafts to the likes of Jaguar Land Rover, Toyota, Nissan and Honda.
The four West Midland plants have all been hit by short-time working due to the drastic slump hitting the automotive sector. “Every GKN Driveline factory in the world is on short-time working,” said the spokesman.
A worker at the Erdington plant, who asked not to be named, said: “We had been expecting bad news but this is worse than anybody had anticipated, especially with the two factory closures.”
Only last month GKN announced it had cut around 2,800 jobs from its workforce globally over the autumn period, including temporary, agency and permanent employees.
But conditions in global automotive markets had continued to deteriorate since November, with activity levels for the last two months of the year down by almost a third.