Business Irish

Sunday 25 August 2019

Future of Ford's HQ in doubt as global cost cuts hit Cork

The future of Ford's Irish headquarters is in doubt as the US car manufacturer aims to relocate the management functions for the market back to the UK, the Sunday Independent understands. (Andrew Matthews/PA)
The future of Ford's Irish headquarters is in doubt as the US car manufacturer aims to relocate the management functions for the market back to the UK, the Sunday Independent understands. (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Michael Cogley

The future of Ford's Irish headquarters is in doubt as the US car manufacturer aims to relocate the management functions for the market back to the UK, the Sunday Independent understands.

As many as 33 jobs could be disrupted by the changes, which are being implemented as part of a global cost-cutting programme by the business. It is understood that the business has begun discussions with staff at its HQ in Co Cork around a voluntary redundancy programme. Staff may also be offered the opportunity to relocate to the UK or another part of its European operations.

Whether the company's Irish arm will remain after the cuts remains unclear.

Ford conducted a similar programme in Austria, where it brought back the management functions for the country to its German office.

"As part of Ford's strategy to strengthen the brand and create a sustainably profitable business in Europe, we have been exploring actions to improve our business efficiency in our market representation and better serve our customers," the company said in a statement.

"We confirm that we have entered into formal consultation regarding a proposal to further align our market representation in the UK and Ireland, to reduce costs, improve profitability and create a more customer-centric business. This follows similar clustering actions made in other select markets in which Ford operates."

In August last year, Ford's global chief executive, Jim Hackett, provided details of the group's enormous cost-reduction strategy. The company intends to reduce its annual expenditure by $25.5bn by 2022.

It was reported in January that the plan would result in thousands of job losses across Europe. The car-maker employs some 54,000 workers across the region, mainly in Germany, the UK and Spain. Ford's head of Europe, Steven Armstrong, said the changes were a "step change in the performance of the business".

"There'll be significant impact across the region," Armstrong told Bloomberg. "This isn't a one or two-year issue. We have had periods of profitability, but not on the level it should be."

The potential closure of the company's Cork office reflects a significant decline of the business that was founded by Henry Ford in 1917, whose family came from Ballinascarty in West Cork. In 1984, Ford closed its manufacturing plant in Cork with the loss of 800 jobs.

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