The speed of the decision to close Ryton was like a bolt from the blue, writes Prof Peter Cooke.

The West Midlands response should be just as quick. Peugeot and its predecessors have built cars at Ryton since 1945 but, alas, that will stop in 2007 with the loss, directly of 2,300 jobs.

While many had expected the plant to be at risk from 2010, closure has come like a thunderbolt from the blue.

The speed of the decision is indicative of the competitiveness of the global automotive industry.

This newest closure will take the loss of jobs in vehicle manufacture to nearly ten thousand - Jaguar, MG Rover, Massey Ferguson - have all cut back or closed.

The Peugeot plant is highly productive.

It has good labour relations, but each vehicle built there is reckoned to cost 415 euros more than at the company's European manufacturing facilities.

Material prices have risen sharply over the last year or two, and are expected to rise further.

Peugeot is reckoned to import 75 per cent of components used at Ryton - that's not good economics.

Peugeot is expanding its production in the Czech Republic and in Slovakia.

These central European countries are the beneficiaries of globalisation; the new EU members have a young and skilled workforce, lower wage levels.

There is a strong and growing local components industry.

Within a couple of years Slovakia will have the world's highest per capita car production, yet both the Slovaks and Czechs are slightly uneasy as to how long they will be able to retain those jobs such is the competitiveness of global manufacturing.

Certainly, it is claimed, it is easier to close a plant in the UK than in France and Peugeot is a French company. However, the company is moving production to Eastern Europe, not France.

It is easy for me to claim Peugeot Ryton is the 'victim of globalisation' but market forces respect nobody.

Why is milk bought in UK supermarkets cheaper than bottled water?

We all want to buy goods and services at the lowest possible price and, as a result, have to accept that suppliers must be allowed to manufacturer in the lowest cost location.

What next?

One must assume there will be no reprieve for Ryton. It is most unlikely a new car manufacturer can be brought into Coventry.

Now is the time for unions, Advantage West Midlands, Government and its agencies to work together to attract new jobs for a highly skilled and disciplined workforce.

It will take time but the faster the exercise starts, t he quicker can new opportunities be created.

The West Midlands is used to job losses in the automotive industries but when its skilled and flexib le workforce pulls together, it has shown itself capable of recovery.

* Peter Cooke is professor of automotive industries management at Nottingham Business School