Fleet News

Fleet pledge as Rover fights factory closure

ROVER has pledged to fight for business in the heartland of the UK fleet market, but faces a four-week deadline to save its giant Longbridge factory from closure. Bosses at both Rover and parent company BMW have been involved in intensive meetings with the Government and trade union bosses in a bid to improve productivity at the West Midlands factory, where the Rover 200 and 400 are built.

BMW chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder claimed there was a 30% productivity gap between Rover's UK plants and BMW's factories in Germany and said Rover would only be successful once that gap had closed. 'Short term actions are required for the long term future for Rover Group,' he said, and announced a review of staff levels which could see 2,400 jobs cut out of 16,000 at Longbridge, the suspension of all 'non-essential' spending in 1998, and the setting-up of teams to investigate measures by which their financial performance can be improved.

Rover's exports have been hit hard by the strength of Sterling, which has also increased the extent of BMW's losses because its financial accounts are in Deutschmarks. BMW now wants to achieve savings of £150 million at Longbridge in each year of the next three years, introduce more flexible working practices and modernise the plant.

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