A day after stating that August sales were up 130% on the same month last year, MG Motor UK has announced that it will finally end all vehicle assembly at Longbridge.
When MG Rover closed in April 2005, 6500 people lost their jobs and local businesses and the local community were devastated. In recent years, a greatly reduced production staff have completed vehicles partially constructed in China at the Longbridge plant.
However, today (Friday 23rd September) MG Motor UK has said that, as part of a strategic UK business review, vehicles will now arrive fully built ready for distribution in the UK.
The company says that centralising production will help to create a leaner business model, and ensure global market competitiveness and support long-term investment into new product lines.
400 skilled design engineers and other staff will still be employed at the SAIC Motor Technical Centre (SMTC) at Longbridge. Sales, marketing and aftersales operations in the UK will also remain at Longbridge, as will the MG parts warehouse.
A new vehicle logistics team will be created and operated from Longbridge, with responsibility for the management of all UK vehicle movements and customs quality checks.
A statement from MG Motor said: “Where possible, production staff will be moved into new roles; however, there will be a nominal number of redundancies.”
Matthew Cheyne, Head of Sales and Marketing at MG Motor UK, commented: “With efficiency and flexibility both key to long-term market success, off-shoring vehicle production is a necessary business decision.
“Relocating to state-of-the-art overseas production facilities will allow faster access to product and help to meet ever-increasing customer demand, all while maintaining the highest levels of production quality.
“In addition, improving production scale efficiencies will support ongoing sales growth in the UK market – a key priority.”
He added: “We have been in discussion with government representatives on a local and national level to explore alternative solutions moving forward. We will continue to do so during this period of consultation and will work with all parties to find the best outcomes for those people likely to be affected within the company.”
Northfield MP Richard Burden reacted to the news with disappointment this morning, saying he understood the concerns that MG had, but that more should have been done to discuss options with the government, local politicians and others. He said: “MG’s decision to close its assembly line at Longbridge is hugely disappointing and I believe it is premature. Having spoken to the Government, I know they are willing to meet MG to discuss and explore options and help that may be available and I am sure the same will be true for the local authority and the Local Enterprise Partnership. That is why I have appealed to MG to delay this decision pending such detailed meetings.
“I’m therefore disappointed that this announcement has been made in advance of those further meetings taking place. I’m pleased that MG want to continue their operation in the UK, including the successful Shanghai Automotive Technical Centre at Longbridge which is associated with MG. We can build on that and that is another reason why I think this announcement is premature. It is vital that MG get around the table with myself, government, LEP and Birmingham City Council to try to find a solution. The voice of employees through their trade unions also needs to be heard. We need to do this in the interests of my constituents, local business and the broader automotive industry.”