Volkswagen luxury car unit Bentley is stopping production at its plant in central England for seven weeks from early March to April to better match supply to demand, a spokesman confirmed on Friday.

The latest measures were announced to workers last week, the spokesman said. Production on the Arnage line will halt for about six weeks and, on the Continental line, seven.

The closure will be staggered as the hand-built cars can take up to 600 man hours to build – the body shop will close first, with final assembly last, and the restart will also be in stages with the body shop re-opening first.

Workers will be paid for the time off as the automaker operates a working time banking system.

“The market is still in significant downturn and we’ve had to adjust our production again,” the spokesman said. “We decided the most effective way to do that was to stop production for a six to seven-week period.

“We always say we won’t produce more cars than there is demand for. Hopefully this [latest cut] will give us a volume that is appropriate for the demand.

“It’s not about saving money; it’s about matching supply to the demand. [We’re] still continuing to pay people [and we] still have to [pay for] a degree of overhead here.”

Bentley made 7,600 cars last year, down 24% on the record 10,000 built in 2007.