USA: Ford readies for more restructuring
Ford is bracing for more restructuring actions, which may include plant closings and additional layoffs, as it tries to stem steep losses in its key North American vehicle operations, Reuters reported.
"The challenge we face isn't a traditional economic downturn," Ford chairman and chief executive Bill Ford Jr. reportedly said in an e-mail message to employees this week. "It's a new, rapidly evolving, brutally competitive global marketplace."
The Ford family scion has been holding off-site meetings with a small group of top executives in the last two months to hash out additional cost-cutting moves, a source familiar with the issue told Reuters.
"Any kind of restructuring like this is a very holistic kind of thing where nothing is really sacred," David Cole, chairman of the Centre for Automotive Research, told the news agency.
"That may mean the closing of a couple of more plants," Cole reportedly said, adding that Ford's aging assembly plant in Wixom, Michigan, could be one likely candidate for closure.
Ford spokesman Oscar Suris told Reuters the company will have a plan ready by the end of the year but declined to be more specific. He did not rule out deeper job cuts in Ford's salaried work force or the closing of manufacturing plants.
An industry source told the news agency a major announcement, possibly related to health-care costs for hourly workers, could come as early as September.
Bill Ford reportedly told employees that the previously-announced job cuts are permanent. The company has now started making involuntary job cuts, including some in its public relations department earlier this month.
"We're not downsizing temporarily with the hope that conditions will get better," he said in the email, according to Reuters. "We're accelerating our business plan to be competitive in the 21st century."