Ford’s Land Rover unit is to cut about 1,000 jobs at its British Solihull manufacturing plant near Birmingham next year as it seeks further cost savings, Reuters reported.


Citing a company spokeswoman, Reuters said the UK-based maker of SUVs and offroad vehicles plans to avoid forced redundancies and will rely on natural wastage to reduce its workforce by about 12% at the plant in Britain’s West Midlands region over the course of 2003.


“We are constantly reviewing our business and trying to improve our efficiencies and this is part of that process,” the spokeswoman told Reuters.


The news agency said the latest move follows about 500 Land Rover white collar job losses earlier this year through voluntary redundancy and early retirement schemes.


The spokeswoman declined to give Reuters a profit forecast for the unit as Ford does not break out earnings from individual brands.


Reuters said Ford’s luxury brands are under pressure to raise their profits almost ten-fold and to jointly account for a third of the parent company’s earnings by the middle of the decade, up from an estimated $250 million now, a target analysts view as ambitious.


The brands, including Volvo, Jaguar and Aston Martin as well as Land Rover, come under the umbrella of the Premier Automotive Group (PAG), Reuters noted.


Reuters said that Ford, in the midst of a multi-year turnaround plan after a $5.45 billion loss in 2001, has said it expects its UK-based Jaguar luxury car operation to post an operating loss of about $500 million for 2002.


Meanwhile, a source close to PAG, who requested anonymity, told just-auto.com that Jaguar was currently “struggling” to reduce its costs but that Land Rover was having more success thanks to initiatives such as the current round of job cuts.


Jaguar has too many factories [three British car production plants plus an engine facility in Wales] for its production volume, an issue it would have to address soon, the source added.