Nissan Backing Sunderland Plant
Nissan backs Sunderland plant as it announces huge losses and Spanish plant closure. The Japanese automotive giant has announced its biggest losses in 20 years and the closure of a plant at Barcelona.
Nissan chiefs have delivered a vote in confidence in the North East after confirming it will maintain the Sunderland car manufacturing plant as part of its transformation plan.
The CEO and president of the Japanese car giant, which employs 6,000 people at its Wearside site, announced core production will continue at the plant at a presentation of its latest financials, made through a live webcast.
President and CEO Makoto Uchida said Nissan also intends to improve efficiencies at the site – but the firm’s sister plant in Barcelona will now close, resulting in around 3,000 job losses.
The plans form part of its ‘Nissan Next’ transformation plan for 2020 to 2023, which will see it focus on key vehicles, such as electric and sports models, in its key markets, introducing new technologies into its future vehicles to meet demands from customers.
Mr Uchida highlighted how Nissan had suffered as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic which had compounded the stagnation of global markets. He said that, looking ahead, the firm had to “learn from its mistakes”.
Mr Uchida said: “We will maintain core manufacturing in Sunderland and also improve efficiencies. We considered various measures in Barcelona and although it was a very difficult decision we intend to close the plant.”
The news came as Nissan revealed huge losses in its 2019 financial year – and predicted a further decline. Last year the firm saw global volumes slide 6.9%, with Europe hit hardest within its worldwide markets with a fall of 19.1%.
Net revenue fell from 11,574.2 billion yen to 9,878.9 billion yen – a drop of 14.6% – and last year’s operating profit of 318.2 billion yen sank to a loss of 40.5 billion yen.
Its ordinary profit plummeted 91.9% from 546.5 billion yen to 44 billion yen.
Nissan and Renault have been in an alliance since 1999 but that partnership has been strained since the arrest – and subsequent escape – of former chairman Carlos Ghosn.
Reports have suggested that the Sunderland plant could benefit from the closure of the Barcelona plant, envisaged the North East taking on production of Renault’s Kadjar and Captur models, which are similar to Nissan models produced on Wearside. The reports were described as “speculative” by Nissan at the time.
The Sunderland plant has received huge levels of investment in recent years but has spare capacity after the cancellation of two models in 2019.