The future of a Birmingham tyre factory employing 180 people has been put under threat after its landlord sold the site to Jaguar Land Rover.
The car giant has bought the premises currently housing the Dunlop Motorsport tyre company, off Ashold Farm Road, in Castle Bromwich, from its landlord Northern Ireland Local Government pension scheme or NILGOSC.
Dunlop Motorsport workers in the factory have been informed, but communications director James Bailey said the firm was still in the dark over the future of the site.
He said the firm had contingency plans to ensure customers are still supplied, but the future of the Birmingham operation was less clear.
The purchase is part of the car giant’s insatiable growth at Castle Bromwich, and the 11-acre plot will be used as part of a wider development as it ramps up production.
The Birmingham Post previously reported it was in a lease dispute with NILGOSC, and despite putting in an offer to remain on the site Dunlop Motorsport’s current deal expires in 2014.
Mr Bailey told the Post: “At the moment we really need to understand the impact of this announcement. We need to look at our contingency plans, and we have only just received this news.
“Looking after our employees is our priority. We will keep them informed as it becomes clearer.”
He added: “We learned on Friday that the land lord has sold the land to Jaguar Land Rover.
“We have got a robust contingency plan because first of all we have got a commitment to the motorsport business. One if our main focuses at the moment is how we continue to supply all of our key customers.
“We make racing tyres in several locations around the world, so we can ensure that people receive the product.”
About 180 people work at the Castle Bromwich site, near the firm’s TyreFort headquarters.
Dunlop Motorsport previously warned that its dispute with the landlord put the jobs of its motorsport staff under threat.
The Post reported last November that NILGOSC had secured planning permission to redevelop the site with industrial warehousing.
The proposals, which come ahead of the 125-year anniversary of Dunlop in Birmingham next year, mean the company faces a major change – and business leaders have said they hope a solution can be found that means jobs remain here, rather than production being moved overseas.
The JLR acquisition came out of the blue, but follows a deal to take over the neighbouring Showcase Cinema, which has since been demolished. It is also knocking down Jaguar Sports and Social Club as part of the development plans.
A spokesperson for Jaguar Land Rover said that it had reached an agreement with NILGOSC’s partner Canmoor Developments, and it planned to use the land as part of the redevelopment of its Castle Bromwich site.
The firm added, in a statement: “Jaguar Land Rover has exchanged unconditional contracts with Canmoor Developments Limited to acquire approximately 11 acres of land adjacent to its Castle Bromwich manufacturing plant.
“Jaguar Land Rover continues to work in partnership with local authorities and businesses to ensure that our growth plans support the local economy and community.”
Katie Teasdale, director of policy at Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group said: “We hope a solution can be found to keep these jobs in the city. We need to have a broad mix of companies in our economy.
“Jaguar Land Rover is a huge success which is an asset for the Midlands, but it is important that we do everything we can to keep Dunlop Motorsport here and safeguard these jobs.
“We hope a suitable location can be found.”