Warwickshire luxury car maker Aston Martin is to cut up to 600 jobs - as it celebrates the second most successful year in its history.
The severity of the global downturn was thrown into sharp focus as the Gaydon-based manufacturer announced it was set to cut up to 300 permanent jobs and 300 temporary posts.
A 90-day consultation period has been launched with Unite the union, and the jobs - marking more than a third of the Warwickshire factory’s workforce - will go in the New Year.
The massive jobs cull comes just 18 months after Aston Martin was sold by Ford to Formula One motorsport tycoon David Richards and two Kuwaiti funds for £479 million.
An Aston Martin spokesman said: “Perhaps the downturn was initially affecting the lower end of the market. But this shows it is a global problem - it’s hitting every walk of industry.”
Aston Martin Chief Executive Officer Dr Ulrich Bez said: “Like other premium car brands, Aston Martin has been forced to take action to respond to the unprecedented downturn in the global economy.
“These are regrettable but necessary measures in the extraordinary market conditions we all now face.”
The jobs axe falls despite four consecutive record years of sales for Aston Martin, which launched its Gaydon plant five years ago.
The spokesman said: “It has been year on year records since 2004. For the last four years, we have broken the previous year’s record.
“This is not a question of manufacturing inefficiency or anything like that. The performance has been superb - it’s just that the climate has changed.
“This year, we will produce about 6,500 cars. It will be the second highest year in our history of 90-odd years.
“This is regrettable short-term action. We are still committed to our long-term plans. But what we are doing is no different to what any other manufacturer is having to do.”
The jobs axe marks a juddering halt to Aston Martin’s sleek rate of growth in recent years, with around 1,000 jobs created by the company over the last eight years. 2007 marked a record year, with 7,300 cars sold.
The company had already announced an extended Christmas and New Year break, with the factory not re-opening after December 23 until January 19. Workers had originally been scheduled to return on January 5 following the normal festive shutdown.
Around half the Warwickshire factory’s output this year will be V8 Vantages, which sell from £83,191. Other models are the £159,043 DBS and the DB9, which starts at £111,526.
A company statement said: “Aston Martin and its trade union partners have begun consultation on a range of cutbacks to reflect the current downturn in the world economy and the corresponding fall in car sales.
“It is hoped to do this by minimising the impact on employees as far as possible, but the possibility of up to 300 permanent and a similar number of temporary job losses cannot be ruled out.”
Dr Bez added: “Overall we remain confident that the Aston Martin brand is the strongest it has ever been. With dedicated design, engineering and manufacturing facilities and an award-winning product range, we remain well positioned for the upturn in the economy.”
Aston Martin employs around 1,700 workers at its manufacturing site in Gaydon and a further 100 at its work service operation in Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire.