Tough economic conditions mean that staff reductions at motor manufacturers look set to continue in 2008 – although certain fleet departments are boosting their numbers to win new business.
Colin Bruder, managing director at motor industry consultancy Network Automotive, says that staff numbers fell at most manufacturers during 2007 as a continuation of a long-term trend and that this momentum was likely to continue.
"Market conditions are not going to improve this year and will probably be worse than the last.
"They need to do everything to maintain profitability,” he said.
“During the last few years, most manufacturers have reduced headcount at their UK offices and started using third party help where appropriate.
"The signs are that this will continue.”
Bruder said that decisions about reduced headcount often affected departments that were under the greatest pressure to maximise sales, such as the fleet department.
However, this is at odds with certain manufacturers who have expanded their fleet sales teams to exploit new business avenues, particularly among the sub-25-vehicle fleet operators.
Renault, GM UK, Mazda, Citroen and non-traditional fleet manufacturers such as Hyundai and Kia, among others, are all redoubling their efforts in fleet as the sector takes an ever-increasing share of the UK’s new car market.