Luxury car-maker Bentley Motors has announced plans to axe 1,000 staff.
The company revealed the bombshell news to 4,200 employees at its Crewe headquarters this morning.
The manufacturer says it hopes to achieve the redundancies through a ‘voluntary release’ programme but added that it cannot rule out future compulsory redundancies.
The proposed 1,000 job losses will account for just under 25 per cent of the workforce.
Adrian Hallmark, chairman and chief executive officer of Bentley Motors, said: “Losing colleagues is not something we are treating lightly but this is a necessary step that we have to take to safeguard the jobs of the vast majority who will remain, and deliver a sustainable business model for the future through our Beyond100 strategy.
“The voluntary release programme at least allows the colleagues to make the personal choice and leave us with the most appealing and supportive offer possible within the circumstances. Covid-19 has not been the cause of this measure but a hastener.”
Over the past few months, Bentley had already taken steps to ‘cut or delay unnecessary spend without impacting future product plans.’
It confirmed that recruitment was stopped, contractors were released across all business areas, pay was frozen and up to 66 per cent of colleagues at peak were placed on furlough.
But it added that the ‘clear conclusion’ was that an urgent reduction in the workforce was unfortunately required.
Letters have now been issued to all colleagues outlining the personal financial terms of the offer based on length of service, age and salary.
Adrian added: “It is vital, even more so now with what is going on around us that we look to the long-term future of Bentley.
“This means fundamentally redefining our company so we respond immediately to protect the business through this crisis, continue to lead our sector by reinventing the company and look to establish ourselves as the leader in sustainable luxury mobility for the next 100 years.”
The latest news from Bentley follows similar announcements from other big-name car manufacturers including Aston Martin, Rolls Royce and Lookers who are looking to axe 500, 3,000 and 1,500 jobs respectively.
Unite the union has described the news as ‘another heavy blow for the UK auto industry’.
Unite’s national officer for the automotive sector Steve Bush said: “This is another heavy blow for our automotive industry and its dedicated workforce.
“Bentley is a name known around the world for the quality of its vehicles, thanks in large part to the expertise of this highly dedicated and superb workforce.
“To ask 1,000 of them to leave the company, albeit on voluntary terms, is heartbreaking for the workforce and their communities. We are determined to support our members during this process to do what we can to mitigate the jobs lost.
“Unite will ensure that all our members are properly advised and supported throughout this highly stressful and traumatic time.
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“Today’s news is another sorry reminder of the battering this sector is taking, caught by a downturn in global demand which has then been supercharged by the global Covid-19 pandemic.
“It is absolutely essential that the government works with the automotive industry and Unite to bring forward the sort of sector specific support we are seeing other governments deliver, in France and Germany, because for every automotive job that goes, four more will go in the wider supply chain.”
Unite’s convenor at Bentley, Stuart Davis added: “Our members have shown their commitment to the brand over many years and this should not go unrecognised. 2020 should have been Bentley’s best ever year but sadly it will now be remembered for all the wrong reasons.”