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Jaguar Land Rover: Union seeks jobs clarification amid sales rumours

By Richard Guttridge | Wolverhampton | Business | Published:

Union officials today demanded urgent clarification over Jaguar Land Rover's future ownership amid a further slump in car sales.

The JLR engine plant at the i54 near Wolverhampton

Tata were forced to deny reports it was preparing to sell JLR, which has an engine plant near Wolverhampton, to French car group PSA.

The Unite union said it was "seeking urgent clarification" over the future of JLR, which employs hundreds at the i54 business park on the edge of Wolverhampton, amid fears a sale could impact on jobs.

It comes as it was revealed JLR sales fell worldwide last month as the luxury car maker continued to suffer from falling demand in China.

However, its UK sales rose by 12.1 per cent in April.

Des Quinn, Unite's national officer for the automotive sector, said: “Unite notes Tata’s denial of these unhelpful rumours. We will be seeking an urgent clarification from both Jaguar Land Rover and PSA.

"Our paramount concern are the livelihoods of our members who have worked hard to ensure the success of both Jaguar Land Rover and Vauxhall.

"The industry is undergoing a period of major change driven by environmental and technological developments but to succeed it has to take its workforce with it.”

Corin Crane, chief executive of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, said speculation JLR could be sold to French car group PSA was unhelpful.

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Inside the JLR engine plant at the i54

Mr Crane said: "The reality is the automotive industry is facing a really difficult time at the moment. We are so reliant on it in the West Midlands and these sorts of rumours don't shore up confidence.

"A lot of people are employed by JLR and even more in the supply chain. It is the perfect storm at the moment for the automotive industry, with what it taking place between the US and China with tariffs, the drop-off in diesel engines and worries over Brexit.

"These sort of rumours don't help."

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Tata dismissed the reports after sources said “post-sale integration document”, which outlines the benefits of the two companies joining forces, was being drawn up.

Pat McFadden, Labour MP for Wolverhampton South East, said Tata had brought major investment since taking over JLR.

He said: "I don't know if there is any truth in these rumours but certainly Tata have been good owners of JLR.

"They have expanded the company significantly over the years they have owned it, invested a huge amount of money and enabled it to introduce a range of new models."

JLR said the introduction of the all-electric Jaguar I-PACE and the sales ramp-up of the new Range Rover Evoque continue to be encouraging, but retail sales of other models were lower.

Felix Brautigam, JLR chief commercial officer, said: “Although this was a tough month for us due to continuing pressures in China, we are delighted to see good growth in the UK and the US. Once again we strongly outperformed the UK market and the US marked its best ever April sales. This reflects the strength of our brands and continued demand for our unique and evolving product line-up."

Jaguar retail sales in April were 11,462 vehicles – down 13.7 per cent year-on-year and Land Rover sold 27,723 - down 13.1 per cent.

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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