£100 MILLION BLOW TO BRITISH LEYLAND
By Ray Heath
Britain’s biggest exporter and our only large-scale Independent car maker British Leyland lost production worth £100 million during the 12-week energy crisis. This has sent the group into the red in the first half of its trading year, and put a question mark on profits for the whole 12 months.
During the go-slow, which also hammered many of Leyland’s suppliers, vehicle production was down by 100,000. Chairman Lord Stokes told shareholders yesterday that the group had been operating at around 60% capacity during the miners dispute. No engineering company the size of British Leyland could expect to operate profitably at that level of output, he said. Leyland made £51 million last year but the chance of making any money at all this year is now in doubt
“If we get a fair run in the second half of the current year we should make good some of the earlier losses but it is not going to be easy, I believe it will take some time to get us fully back on course,” said Lord Stokes.
He would not say how big the first half losses were, but his right hand man, John Barber said later: ‘” When you talk of heavy losses you do not mean £1 million.”
The biggest worry at British Leyland now is the possibility of industrial action by engineering workers. “It could have disastrous results which are bound to have repercussions throughout the motor industry,” said Lord Stokes.
He also reported that the energy crisis cutback had left the way wide open for overseas competitors in export markets.
At the same meeting John Barber , deputy BLMC chairman, tells share holders: “If we have uninterrupted production we could well be able to pull back into profit overall at the year’s end.”