Business

Car maker Ford to add 120 UK jobs

The car maker Ford is in the process of recruiting more than one hundred new staff at its British factories.

In an exclusive interview with the BBC, the company boss Alan Mulally said there may well be further new jobs created.

Mr Mulally was speaking before giving the CBI's annual lecture in London on the subject of Ford's "renaissance".

He has been widely credited with turning the company around since taking over as chief executive in 2006.

Ford ploughed on through the recession and slump in world trade without needing a government bailout.

What's more it was the only one of the big three US car giants which did not go bankrupt.

The secret, Mr Mulally said, was to reduce the number of brands in the company's portfolio and to concentrate on the core Ford marque.

A more limited range of models with more common parts is now being rolled out globally.

To that end, Aston Martin, Jaguar LandRover and Volvo were all sold.

UK growth

He said it was "liberating" for the company's management to have a "laser focus" on the key Ford brands.

To back the strategy, Ford borrowed about £15bn before the credit crunch to carry out the restructuring and develop new models.

It was in effect a war chest which supported the group through the recession. With hindsight, Mr Mulally's timing on the loan decision could hardly have been bettered.

So what of the UK? Ford employs more than 15,000 workers.

Engines are manufactured at Dagenham and Bridgend and the Transit van is produced in Southampton. There is a joint venture transmission facility at Halewood.

Vehicle assembly stopped at Dagenham in 2002. There were gloomy predictions in some quarters about the long term prospects for the site.

But a new diesel centre was opened the following year and now over 50% of Ford's diesel engines are supplied by Dagenham.

An engine made at the Essex plant is just as likely to power a car sold in Bangkok or Sydney as a vehicle sold in Brighton or Sunderland.

Mr Mulally was upbeat about his British operations, having recently confirmed £1.5 billion of investment over five years, partly underwritten by Government loan guarantees.

Profits return

His officials later confirmed that the company was in the process of recruiting 120 new workers.

"Ford is now growing around the world," he said.

"So we are going to grow our business here in the UK also and provide great jobs and great careers in technology and innovation."

The Ford boss does not expect a double dip recession in the United States, though he acknowledges the recovery has been slow.

He expects "solid" profits in the current financial year.

It was not long ago that the only stories from the car industry were unrelentingly dismal.

Here is one industry chief ready to look on the bright side and to talk about expansion and recruitment rather than contraction and layoffs.

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