Nissan backs Sunderland plant as it announces huge losses and Spanish plant shutdown

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Nissan chiefs cast a vote of confidence in the Northeast after confirming that it would maintain the Sunderland car manufacturing plant as part of its transformation plan.

The CEO and President of the Japanese auto giant, which employs 6,000 people at its Wearside site, announced that base production will continue at the factory during a presentation of its latest financial statements, broadcast live on the Web.

President and CEO Makoto Uchida said Nissan also intends to improve site efficiency – but the company’s sister plant in Barcelona would close, resulting in around 3,000 job cuts.

The plans are part of his “Nissan Next” transformation plan for 2020 to 2023, which will see him focus on key vehicles, such as electric and sports models, in his key markets, introducing new technologies into his future vehicles for respond to customer requests.

Uchida pointed out how Nissan had suffered from the coronovirus pandemic which had worsened the stagnation of world markets. He said that for the future, the company should “learn from its mistakes.”

Uchida said: “We will maintain basic manufacturing at Sunderland and also improve efficiency. We have considered various measures in Barcelona and although this is a very difficult decision, we intend to close the factory. “

The news came as Nissan revealed huge losses in its 2019 fiscal year – and predicted a further decline. Last year, the company saw its global volumes drop 6.9%, with Europe being the hardest hit in its global markets, down 19.1%.

Net sales decreased from 11,574.2 billion yen to 9,878.9 billion yen – a decrease of 14.6% – and operating income of 318.2 billion yen from last year dropped to a loss of 40.5 billion yen.

Ordinary profit fell 91.9% from 546.5 billion yen to 44 billion yen.

Nissan and Renault have been allies since 1999, but this partnership has been strained since the arrest – and the ensuing escape – of former President Carlos Ghosn. Mistibushi joined the alliance in 2016.

Reports have suggested that the Sunderland plant could benefit from the closure of the Barcelona plant, which is expected to have the Northeast take over production of the Renault Kadjar and Captur models, which are similar to the Nissan models produced on Wearside. The reports were described as “speculative” by Nissan at the time.

The Sunderland plant has received huge investments in recent years, but has unused capacity after the cancellation of two models in 2019.

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