Exclusive - Vauxhall boss: We can't rule out more factory down time

Vauxhall boss Duncan Aldred
Vauxhall hasn't ruled out shutting its UK factories for another "down week" this year following the plants' closures at the end of September.

If the economic situation continues to deteriorate in Europe, the manufacturer will be forced to shut its factories at Ellesmere Port and Luton again.
In an interview at the Paris Motor Show, Vauxhall chairman Duncan Aldred told Autoblog that the decision to "go cold" last week was "absolutely the right thing to do" and that he can't rule it out happening again.

"We look at the economic outlook across Europe every month and take a decision in the first week of the month on our capacity," he explained. "We cannot afford to build up stock. It takes up cash flow and damages our business. The savings from closing the factory for one week rather than simply slowing down the line are massive.

"Just to give you an example, if we were to run a four-day week instead of a five day week over a year we would save £1m in utilities alone."

Vauxhall Astra production

Aldred said he believed the closures were the smart thing to do and explained that the labour agreements put in place with the workforce when the contract for the new Astra was secured for Ellesmere Port enabled the maker to "bank" the hours lost this week so they don't incur overtime charges when they're needed again in the future.

"The beauty is the workforce still get paid," added Aldred. "Ironically the UK car market is up, as is Russia, but the picture elsewhere is worsening.

"Shutting down for another week can't be ruled out. We have not got a plan for another shut down at the moment, but we have to revaluate that every month. There are concerns in German, Europe's biggest market, and that could cause further problems and we'll have to take appropriate action."

31 years of the Vauxhall Astra
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Exclusive - Vauxhall boss: We can't rule out more factory down time

Astra production started in 1979 at Opel's Bochum plant in Germany. Ellesmere Port began building the Astra in 1981, and this was the first car to roll off the production line.

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