BL to lay off 4,000 men at Rover Solihull
By Clifford Webb Midlands Industrial Correspondent
The first substantial cutback in production by British Leyland for more than two years is to begin at Rover Solihull next week when 4,000 men are laid off for three weeks because of unsold stocks of Rover saloons. When they return on January 7 they will work short time for the next two months until production is boosted by the phased transfer of the TR7 sports car from Triumph Canley to Rover Solihull.
A Rover spokesman said: “The cutback in production is being forced on us by the effects of rising fuel prices and uncertainty about future market requirements. Every other manufacturer of larger cars is affected in the same way. For instance Ford Cologne stopped Granada production for six weeks out of the last 13 “.
Asked to comment on reports that BL had at least 10,000 Rovers stockpiled and more being added every day he said: “Ten thousand is not a panic figure. We sold over 3,000 in October alone. There has not been a collapse in demand for Rovers. We are just being careful taking steps in time to reduce our inventory and protect our cash flow. You only have to look at the sky-high interest rates to see the logic in that. We are saving several million pounds.”
BL management has made strenuous efforts over the past four months to reduce Rover stocks. The company attracted adverse comments by offering a side of smoked salmon to motorists who test drove a Rover, but claims that the result, one in five bought a car, more than justified the expense. However, attempts to prevent the car being discounted by dealers worried about their stocks have not been very successful. New Rovers are still being offered for sale at substantial discounts.