Ford’s newly acquired acquisition Land Rover is set to send thousands of its employees to continental Europe for retraining, writes the UK’s Financial Times (19/10/00).

The decision – in an effort to improve both quality and cut costs – involves more than 3,000 workers or 23 per cent of the total workforce who are to receive intensive training at Ford’s plants in Germany, Spain and the UK.

All 2,000 employees from the Defender and Discovery production lines are to be involved in the transfer alongside 1,000 workers from the Range Rover line, who will be attending a four-week programme on premium-sector production techniques.

The training placements – totalling 15 days and to be completed within 6 months – is said to cost Land Rover 5,000 units in lost production.

The FT also reports that production of Land Rover’s two flagship models will be cut by around 25 per cent, with Ford preparing to resort to single-shift production of both the Discovery and the Defender. Weekly output is to be cut from 1,000 and 410 units per week, with the company seeking voluntary redundancies totalling 600.

Citing Marin Burela, Manufacturing Director at Land Rover, the FT says that nothing like this has been attempted in the company’s history. Mr Burela added that any stoppages to production would enable Ford to reorganise the assembly lines for both the Discovery and Defender models.

Land Rover is expected to lose £150m ($217m) this year, with the company possibly not returning to profit before 2002, says the FT.