Jaguar is finding the going "damn tough" as it fights for sales in a declining luxury car market, managing director Bibiana Boerio admitted yesterday.
But she stressed the company was on track to return to profit after a year in which it ended production at its historic Browns Lane plant at Coventry in favour of its Castle Bromwich factory.
Jaguar is now thought to be close to clinching a deal to sell the whole of the Browns Lane site which was retained as the the corporate headquaters and which still houses the wood veneer operation and the company ' s museum.
Talking about the company's prospects, Ms Boerio said: "We believe we are on track but the market is down in many places around the world and the trading environment is hard."
She was speaking as latest figures from parent group Ford showed that Jaguar sales in the important US market fell by 41 per cent to 1,937 in November compared with 3,268 in the same month last year.
Sales for the first 11 months of the year were 34 per cent down at 27,979 compared with 42,458 at the same stage in 2004.
Total Ford sales in its home market fell by 15 per cent to 201,711 last month.
But the blue oval company is only 4.5 per cent down at 2.9 million units so far in a year that has seen its bigger rival General Motors pushed close to bankruptcy in the teeth of plummeting sales and eroded margins.
Jaguar's sales this year have fallen from record levels in 2004 and Ms Boerio yesterday said the decline was partly due to market conditions and partly because a strategic decision to stop chasing volumes and concentrate its efforts on selling fewer but more profitable high margin models.
In the US it has suffered from the weakness of the dollar which has made its products comparatively expensive.
"This time last year we put in place a revitalisation plan," Ms Boerio said in an interview with The Birmingham Post.
"We said it was going to be product led and that it was going to take some time. We also said it would not be a quick fix but we have made huge progress in a number of areas this year."
Jaguar's manufacturing team had done a "brilliant" job in transferring the XJ saloon and XK sports car assembly lines from Browns Lane to Castle Bromwich while also gearing up for new models.
"If you look at our competitors, Mercedes is also down in our vehicle segments by double digit numbers and BMW is down by between five and ten per cent.
"But that's the way the business is. It is no good whinging about it."
Asked whether Jaguar was under pressure from Ford to start contributing a profit to the Premier Automotive Group stable of luxury cars, Ms Boerio said: "Every business that is losing money has its own internal and external pressure to improve.
"I don't think there is any more pressure from Ford than we are already putting on ourselves.
"I don't need the Ford Motor Company to tell me that we can't keep on losing money.
"We have a team of people working round the clock to bring this business back to profitability, and depending on the economic environment, exchange rates, interest rates and a lot of things that aren't under our control, it will happen sooner or later.
"Jaguar is a great brand that survived many ups and down and which has prospered under Ford's ownership."