By Andrew Cornelius, Industrial Editor
Austin Rover yesterday began its biggest recruitment drive for several years by adverising for 850 workers at its factories at Cowley, in Oxford and Longbridge, Birmingham. British Aerospace, which now owns Austin Rover, said that recruitment would begin immediately to meet booming demand for all the company’s models. The huge demand for Austin Rover cars will lead to renewed criticism from Labour MP’s that Rover was sold to British Aerospace on the cheap.
Production of Metro, Maestro, Montego and Rover 200 cars is to be increased by 1,000 cars to 11,000 cars a week from January. The company is benefiting from a record demand in the UK for cars, and yesterday recieved a further boost when Honda asked Austin Rover to increase UK production of its Concerto cars by 10,000 to 40,000 a year.
The five-door version of the Concerto is a joint venture between Austin Rover and Honda, after the joint venture manufacture of the Honda Legend which is called the Sterling in Britain. This follows last weeks announcement that Austin Rover had won a £540 million order from Avis Europe to supply 60,000 cars over the next three years. The company said that 600 new jobs would be created at longbridge where the Rover 200 and Metro are manufactured, with a further 250 new jobs at Cowley where the Rover Sterling, Montego and Maestro are made.
A spokesman stressed that the company would still be going ahead with its plans to close the Cowley South Works, in the early 1990s, which will mean the loss of 2,500 jobs. This process will begin within the next 18 months when the Maestro model is phased out of production. However, the spokesman said that the new recruits were needed to meet the current level of demand for Austin Rover cars.
The new recruits will be paid average salaries of around £200 a week, including overtime and bonuses. Austin Rover is enjoying a sales boom which has spread across the entire British motor industry. Ford, Peugeot, and Vauxhall factories are working flat out to meet demand. This year sales are expected to reach a record 2.25 million cars, against 2 million last year, with few signs of any slowdown in demand.