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Lotus could shed up to 325 jobs
Lotus is shrinking again. It has announced a plan that, if implemented, will mean the loss of up to 325 jobs - more than a quarter of its worldwide workforce. According to a statement from CEO Jean-Marc Gales the saving of money will “build a strong, sustainable future”.
The move, he said, would help the company “achieve its business goals”. He didn’t say, but it’s true that the most pressing goal is to stop losing money. They’re selling more sports cars this year than for a while, up by nearly a half over 2013. But even so, profits are unforthcoming.
So Lotus needs to sell even more cars. One way to do that, of course, is to come out with new models, and we’ve seen more sporting variants of the Exige and Elise. There will be more of those, too.
But in the long term that won’t be enough. Lotus needs to invest in all-new cars. Gales, the boss since May this year, doesn’t deny this. But there’s really no hint of what those new cars might be, or when.
Because the job cuts are still in consultation, Lotus can’t say where in the company they’ll be from. No doubt they’ll be spread over the contract engineering division, the factory, the sales and marketing departments, and new-car engineering. Our profound hope is that the last of those goes unscathed.
The redundancies are designed to stabilise this money-losing enterprise so it can invest for the future. But history has shown that too many times, investment gets made and then new management cuts it off before there’s a reward. Several iterations of new Esprit have been designed and engineered and then put on ice. Lotus customers surely deserve more clarity.
Less than a year ago, Lotus was granted £10.3 million by the Government’s Regional Growth Fund for training, R&D and to safeguard 900 jobs and add 313 more, by 2019. At the moment Lotus has 1215 people of whom 1032 are in Norfolk. Strangely, because of that 2019 deadline, cutting some of them now, before it arrives, doesn’t mean Lotus is obliged to give the money back.