Bentley: Luxury carmaker to cut up to 1,000 jobs

Luxury carmaker Bentley has said it will cut 1,000 jobs in the UK, about a quarter of its workforce.

The company, which makes its cars in Crewe, has offered all staff the chance to take voluntary redundancy.

The move comes as the car industry faces a sharp drop in sales due to coronavirus. Bentley has also struggled to be profitable in recent years.

Bentley’s boss, Adrian Hallmark, said the virus was not the cause of the cuts, but a “hastener”.

Car sales have been severely hit by the closure of car manufacturers, suppliers and showrooms due to the virus.

In a statement, Bentley which turns 101 on 10 July, said it was launching a restructuring programme which would “redefine Bentley for the next 100 years”. The plan had been due to be announced in March, but was deferred due to the pandemic.

While the substance of the new strategy remained the same, the company said the effects on the short-term financial outlook for the company meant that it had to “significantly reduce the size of the organisation through a voluntary release programme”.

It said it was looking for as many as 1,000 people to accept voluntary redundancy, but it “cannot rule out future compulsory redundancies”.

“Losing colleagues is not something we are treating lightly but this is a necessary step that we have to take to safeguard the jobs of the vast majority who will remain, and deliver a sustainable business model for the future through our Beyond100 strategy,” said Mr Hallmark.

That strategy aims to make Bentley the “leader in sustainable luxury mobility for the next 100 years”, with an “accelerated journey towards electrification with every model”.

‘Last resort’

Last month, Mr Hallmark said that a quarter of the company’s workers had been furloughed due to the lockdown while another quarter were working from home.

The carmaker has since restarted production at its Crewe factory, but with only around half the usual number of staff.

Bentley, which is owned by Volkswagen, has struggled to be profitable in recent years.

It is in the middle of a turnaround plan which began in 2018. Last year, it increased its worldwide sales by 5% to 11,000 cars and it reported a record performance in the first quarter of 2020.

But now with “considerable forecast reduction to future revenues” due to coronavirus it has carried out a review of its cost and investment structure and “as the last resort… the people cost and structure”.

The SMMT trade body said only 20,000 new cars were registered in the UK last month – down 89% year-on-year – the worst May performance since 1952.

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