By Anthony Rowley
British Leyland’s profits recovered to £32.4m in 1970-71 from £0.9m the previous year, Lord Stokes, the chairman and managing director, revealed yesterday. Sales rose by 15 per cent last year to reach a record £1,177m, of which £563m (48 per cent) was registered overseas, he added. Direct exports of £414m were “higher than ever achieved by any British company of any kind”‘.
Vehicles sold totalled 1057,000, compared with 984,000 the previous year, a rise of 7-5 per cent. But BLMC was still some £8m Short of the £40m profit reached in the first two years after the merger of British Motor Holdings with Leyland in 1968. Lord Stokes said he hoped for a return to at least this level this year, but everything depended on their ability to supply increasing home and overseas demand. The chief problem in this was gaining acceptance for “a new payments system for 180,000 people “.
British Leyland is trying to introduce a system of flat rate payments to replace piece-work. Lord Stokes said rationalization measures taken since the merger could not yet be fully realized. Profits this year should be “substantially higher ”
than last year.
“I should like to think it would be more than double that in the long term.” He indicated that 1975 might be the year when return on capital employed reached satisfactory levels, but a “period of complete industrial peace” was required to achieve this. He was
“fairly optimistic”, about this vear.
“Production of vehicles is currently running at a higher rate than last year.” But he declined to make a profit forecast.