JCB boss warns 'hundreds' of jobs at risk over Russia sanctions
Sanctions against Russia could cost hundreds of jobs at digger giant JCB, chairman Lord Bamford has claimed.
The US and EU have imposed the toughest sanctions on Russia since the end of the Cold War following the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 17.
But Russia is a major customer for companies such as JCB and West Midlands-based luxury carmaker Jaguar Land Rover.
Last year Russia was one of JLR's big growth markets, along with India, China and Brazil, up 43 per cent as sales soared to 20,549.
And Staffordshire-based JCB has just opened its biggest ever dealer depot, at Ekaterinburg, Russia's fourth biggest city.
The economic fall-out from the political action has prompted JCB chairman Lord Bamford to warn it could cost hundreds of jobs in the UK, where his company employs more than 6,000 people – 400 of them at JCB's cab factory in Rugeley.
Lord Bamford said: "Russia is a very important market for JCB and has been for more than 30 years.
"It appears that JCB is going to be affected by the decision to impose sanctions but to what extent, we are unable to say at the moment.
"We ship both machines and spare parts to Russia and are the market leader for construction equipment in the country. If sanctions restrict sales of machines and spare parts there will be obviously be a major impact on JCB, which could put hundreds of British jobs at risk.
"It seems absurd that a leading UK exporter successfully selling machinery to construction companies and farmers in Russia could be affected so dramatically by EU sanctions coming out of Brussels."
Across the Black Country, the sanctions are expected to have less effect on the hundreds of smaller manufacturing firms in Walsall, Wolverhampton, Dudley and Sandwell.
At the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, head of policy Bhanu Dhir said: "We haven't had any inquiries from any member companies about sanctions against Russia. It is not a major trading partner for our members."
But for JLR, currently developing its new engines at its factory in Wolverhampton and set to launch its new Jaguar XE saloon next months, Russia is a bigger market.
However, JLR spokeswoman Joan Chesney said the car company did not expect to be directly affected by the new sanctions.
"It is not such a significant effect for us as compared to JCB," she said. Russia is less than five per cent of our sales.
"The current round of sanctions is against oil, defence and dual-use technology and none of our products are affected. It is three months until the list is reviewed, but we will be keeping an eye on the situation."
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