Press Report : Jaguar proves its value with annual sales boost

Alun Thorne, Birmingham Post, 7th January, 2009

Booming annual car sales figures for Jaguar will put further pressure on the government not to let the successful company fail.

Sources close to the luxury marque are predicting that Jaguar sales will be up 10 per cent year on year compared to a 10 per cent fall in total new car registrations.

The stand out numbers will undoubtedly give added impetus to the Birmingham Post campaign launched this week calling on the government to guarantee credit lines for Jaguar Land Rover to help it through the current credit crunch.

The campaign, which is being backed by the Birmingham Mail, the Coventry Telegraph, the Liverpool Daily Post and the Liverpool Echo, has been backed by politicians and business leaders from across the region and a petition on the Downing Street website received more than 1,000 names in its first 24 hours.

JLR Chief Executive David Smith has claimed the carmaking industry is facing a once-in-a-century crisis as it tries to navigate a full-blown recession and a continuing refusal by banks to provide credit to even the most viable of companies.

Despite enjoying one of its best years on record thanks to the success of its new XF model, JLR has already been forced to shed 600 permanent and 850 casual jobs and Mr Smith has warned that more jobs are likely to go in the near future.

The company employs 16,000 people at sites in Birmingham, Coventry and Liverpool with up 100,000 jobs directly affected in the supply chain.

The company’s Indian owners Tata held extended talks with the government before Christmas regarding the parlous state of its finances and these talks are expected to resume today with not just JLR but the entire UK automotive industry awaiting a decision on whether the government will offer the necessary financial support until the credit crisis has eased.

A government spokeswoman from the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), headed by Business Secretary Peter Mandelson, refused to be drawn on any potential outcome of the talks.

She said: “The department is aware of the Birmingham Post campaign and will be keeping tabs on it and how many people sign the petition.

“There are already a number of things the government is doing and it has already been talking to industries, such as the automotive industry, about economic difficulties they are facing.”

The car registrations announcement by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) will also include sales figures for December where the decline may well match the big monthly falls that have been a feature of the SMMT new-car announcements since the late summer with Land Rover particularly suffering from an above average drop in sales.

Year on year it has seen sales fall by 18 per cent. New registrations in November 2008 were a massive 36.8 per cent down on those of November 2007 – the biggest monthly drop since 1980. This followed declines of 18.6 per cent in August 2008, 21.2 per cent in September and 23 per cent in October.

The UK is not the only country struggling to sell cars with the USA announcing that December 2008 new car sales were down 36 per cent and that the new registrations for 2008 were down 18 per cent compared with 2007. Also, Japan’s December 2008 sales dipped 22.3 per cent and its year-end total was the worst since 1974.

[Source: Birmingham Post]

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