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Bus Maker Alexander Dennis To Axe 200 Of Its Guildford Workforce

Published on: 20 Aug, 2020
Updated on: 20 Aug, 2020

Alexander Dennis’ chassis plant at Slyfield Green, Guildford.

Bus and coach maker Alexander Dennis announced today (August 20) that as part of the firm’s “necessary restructuring”, 200 people will lose their jobs at its factory on the Slyfield Industrial Estate in Guildford.

Buses will not longer be built in Guildford and it is believed that it will leave about 40 staff thereafter.

It is blaming the redundancies on “the dramatic fall in demand for new buses and coaches as a result of lockdown, social distancing and low passenger numbers,” adding it has been left with “no alternative but to adjust its business to the current economic situation”.

A view inside the Alexander Dennis factory on the Slyfield Industrial Estate during an open day in May 2019.

However, the Unite trade union, on its website, has criticised Alexander Dennis, the UK’s largest bus and coach builder, for its “disgraceful and deceptive behaviour” over the Guildford redundancies and those at its plants in Falkirk (160 jobs) and Scarborough (90 jobs).

On its website Unite states it has “exposed the plans by Alexander Dennis’ parent company, the NFI Group, to potentially close a UK site and outsource a large bus building contract for Berlin to a company in Turkey, despite using the decline in orders to try and justify planned cuts”.

Unite adds: “In a recording from an NFI investors meeting on August 6, the group’s chief financial officer Pipasu Sinui said that NFI‘s strategy is about generating ‘significant returns for shareholders’ and was developed before the pandemic. NFI CEO Paul Soubry also stated that many bus orders have been ‘shifted’ from 2020 to 2021, rather than being cancelled, and said that bus markets ‘will recover and will be a critical driver for economic recovery for the long term’.”

Unite says it has also been calling for the prime minister’s promised order of 4,000 new low emission buses to be brought forward to help the bus and coach industry to recover from Covid-19, but says any support must now be conditional on Alexander Dennis Ltd ending job cuts and outsourcing and committing to the long-term future of each site.

A bus chassis at Alexander Dennis seen during its open day in May 2019.

On its website Alexander Dennis states that it “remains firmly committed to working with its customers and supporting the bus and coach operating industry,” and that “the restructuring programme is designed to adjust current capacity without compromising the company’s ability to respond to a resurgence of demand in the future”.

However, it added that it intends to transfer chassis production to its Falkirk factory. This means that after 116 years the building of buses in Guildford will end.

It adds that non-manufacturing functions including engineering, test and development and “aftermarket” will continue at Slyfield.

The redundancies may take place in October and it is likely that its staff will then be around 40 people.

Charabanc buses being assembled at Dennis Bros Woodbridge factory in the 1920s.

The world famous Dennis Bros Ltd, founded by John and Raymond Dennis, formed their business as a private limited company in 1901. It was in 1904 when its first bus came off the production line. Such was the demand for Dennis buses, within a few years the firm was not only supplying them throughout Britain, but to the Netherlands, Italy and even as far as Brazil. The rest, they say is history…

See previous story about the Alexander Dennis’s open day in May 2019.

And: Bus And Coach Builder Alexander Dennis Bought Out By North American Firm For £320m

 

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test 3 Responses to Bus Maker Alexander Dennis To Axe 200 Of Its Guildford Workforce

  1. David Wragg Reply

    August 22, 2020 at 11:40 am

    We are always told that ownership doesn’t matter when a British company is sold to an overseas owner, but this proves that it does.

    Jaguar Land Rover is Indian-owned and has opened a new factory in the EU with the national government providing considerable aid, and as a result, the new Land Rover Defender will be built there.

  2. Charlie Heater Reply

    August 24, 2020 at 8:24 pm

    Served my apprenticeship at Dennis Brothers’ Woodbridge works in the 1970s, that was when the UK had a manufacturing industry.

    Maybe leaving the EU will give this country the need to start producing again instead of importing from the Far East.

    It’s a crying shame what has happened.

  3. Julia Shaw Reply

    August 28, 2020 at 8:24 am

    Very sad to hear this. Alexander Dennis is an important part of Guildford and it’s history.

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