Coronavirus: Carmaker Bentley slashes up to 1,000 jobs

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
Bentley has announced it is to cut up to 1,000 jobs under a 'voluntary release programme.' (PA)

The carmaker Bentley has announced plans to slash up to 1,000 jobs, warning the coronavirus crisis has hit its sales hard and it had run out of other ways to cut costs.

The company, owned by Volkswagen (VOW.DE) and headquartered in Crewe, said it had informed its 4,200-strong workers of its “voluntary release programme” and could not rule out future compulsory redundancies. A union called the job losses at the iconic carmaker “heartbreaking” for workers.

A statement said it had already been working on a “major change programme” before the pandemic hit to boost productivity and make it financially resilient. But it said its strategy had been “derailed” by COVID-19, leading to a considerable dent in forecast future revenues.

The company said it had already sought to reduce spending, through freezing recruitment, letting contractors go, freezing pay and putting up to two-thirds of workers on furlough. It had also resumed some production in Crewe last month.

READ MORE: Aston Martin and Lookers announce 2,000 job losses

But it said an “urgent reduction in the workforce was unfortunately required,” calling the measures a “last resort.”

Unite union national officer Steve Bush said the decision was “another heavy blow” for the car industry, with job losses mounting across the sector as demand has collapsed.

“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,” said Bush.

It comes a day after rival manufacturer Aston Martin (AML.L) and dealership Lookers also announced plans to cut 500 and 1,500 jobs respectively.