“Sir William’s success, and eminence in the motor industry are too self evident to require further words from me.”
This was yesterday’s restrained eulogy from the boss, Lord Stokes. Self-evident or not, the British motor industry is unlikely to see another Sir William Lyons for some time, particularly in these days when men of style and flair tend to take second place to hard-nosed men of figures and balance sheets. In an unusual sense Sir William Lyons is Jaguar Cars: from the beginning of next month he will have been. It is then that he retires after 50 years in the motor industry……
He remains until his retirement far, and. away the largest single shareholder/director of British Leyland with a holding worth nearly £240,000 Sir William’s, successor is no novice when it comes to- fast moving cars. F. R. W. “Lofty.”‘ England, who takes over the helm (or should we say wheel?) at Jaguar, has seen the vicissitudes of the motor industry at close quarters for the best part of four decades.
Another sign of the times in the motor industry emerged yesterday simultaneously with news of Sir William’s retirement. British Leyland also divulged to the world at large a 32-page document, explaining in straightforward terms for the benefit of their employees the company’s financial state of affairs.
There is John Barber, finance director, explaining that BL’s profit margin of only just over 1-5 per cent is “not enough even for the sweet shop round the corner”, adding that “unless we can make more vehicles and earn more money we shall not be able to replace our models and our plants sufficiently quickly and we shall, gradually wither away.”
Then there are the warnings of Pat Lowry, industrial relations’ chief; “if the total after tax profit was divided among all our employees they would each receive £25 and the Corporation would be bankrupt.”