Mr John Barber, recently promoted deputy chairman and deputy chief executive of British Leyland, yesterday warned the corporation’s 180,000 employees that much bigger profits would have to be made to sustain the huge investment programme planned for the next five years. This has been variously estimated at between £330m and £500m. In the works newspaper, Mr Barber said the first half-year profit of £22.8m before tax was a vast improvement on the £7.2m profit in the same period last year.
But “this fine performance is only a step towards the sort of profits we have to achieve if we are to carry on competing in the top league of world motor manufacturers “.
Since British Leyland was formed five years ago capital expenditure had averaged £53m a year, appreciably less than their major overseas competitors had been spending. With an eye obviously on the group’s poor strike record, he continued: ” We plan to close the gap substantially, so you can see that the need for sustained profit improvement is vital to the corporation’s and our own personal prosperity.”
At a time when home market demand had risen by 35 per cent, they continued to suffer heavy losses from disputes. In 1968 they built 1,000,896 vehicles and by 1972 this had risen only to 1,070,270.