Martin Chapman is to take over running Ford's Southampton plant - commonly known as 'home of the Transit'.

Essex-born Martin, 48, became Southampton's manufacturing engineering manager in October and moves up to the top job on 1 January.

Martin, who joined Ford in 1979 as a toolmaker, succeeds Trevor Negus who transfers back to the Asia Pacific region for a new assignment with the company. An Australian who managed Ford's car assembly plant in Melbourne prior to Southampton plant, Trevor takes valuable experience of commercial vehicle production to his next role.

Martin already knows Transit assembly well from previous Ford assignments as stamping area manager in 2003 at Kocaeli, in Turkey - Europe's other Transit manufacturing location - and afterwards plant manager at Dagenham stamping operations, Essex, which makes about 40% of the van line's body panels.

Ford Southampton employs 1,350 people and produces more than 70,000 Transits a year.