UK busmaker Alexander Dennis to cut 650 jobs

The busmaker Alexander Dennis is cutting 650 jobs in the latest blow to the UK automotive industry as it reels from the coronavirus pandemic.

The job losses are expected to affect workers at sites in Guildford, Scarborough and Falkirk, the company’s main manufacturing facilities, as well as other sites.

Alexander Dennis employed 2,700 people worldwide before the cuts, which have come as part of a global restructuring by its Canadian owner, NFI Group.

Busmakers have suffered after their customers, public and private bus operators, had their income wiped out by travel restrictions that have led to passenger volumes falling to as little as a tenth of 2019 levels.

Alexander Dennis made 1,250 buses for the UK market in 2019, but it has received no orders since March. It said it needed to move to “a leaner, more flexible manufacturing model” with lower costs.

Colin Robertson, the Alexander Dennis chief executive, who is set to to join NFI’s board, said the company had been on track for record sales before the pandemic hit. He warned of an “unprecedented crisis” hitting the bus industry.

Robertson called for the government to act quickly on its pledge to order 4,000 environmentally friendly buses to support the UK’s manufacturing industry as well as cutting bus emissions. This echoes other bus companies such as Northern Ireland’s Wrightbus, which was taken over by the JCB heir, Jo Bamford, last year and is working on separate zero-emissions technology.

Alexander Dennis had been pushing to increase the number of electric buses it produces before the pandemic, making 80 in 2019. In the early months of 2020 more than a third of its orders were for electric buses.

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Steve Bush, a national officer at the Unite union, said the job losses were “a devastating blow for Alexander Dennis workers and their communities”.

“The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the automotive sector greatly,” he said. “However, ADL [Alexander Dennis Limited] is in a good position to take advantage of the need to reduce the carbon footprint of the UK’s passenger transport network. Unite is clear ADL must not impact its future operating capacity by cutting jobs opportunistically for the sake of short-term savings.”



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