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HISTORY FEARS FOR FUTURE AT JLR

19-02-2010

Car workers at JLR in Castle Bromwich and Solihull will be anxiously hoping history doesn’t repeat itself following the appointment of two senior managers who were involved with the BMW Group when it made the fateful decision to sell off Rover in 2000.

Holding company Tata have given Carl-Peter Forster the job of CEO; while his old pal Dr Ralf Speth succeeds David Smith as Jaguar Land Rover’s chief executive.

Back in 2000, the duo were part of the decision making process when BMW reversed its plans to build the new Mini at Longbridge, switching production instead to Cowley in Oxford.

The Birmingham plant got to make the Rover 75 instead, and was sold off to the Phoenix Four before quickly going bust. Land Rover, meanwhile, was flogged off to Ford.

Of course, Forster and Smith were only a part of a corporate decision making process, and were not individually responsible for what happened – but
employees fear the past the could be a guide to the future.

Tata has previously said that it will close one of the two West Midland plants, but employees will be wondering if those plans might change.

They nervously point to the fact that Jaguar hasn’t made a profit for years, for example, and could easily split off and sold – potentially leaving the more successful Land Rover as a stand alone brand.

Watch this space.

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