Vauxhall gets new UK boss days after fresh round of job cuts

Vauxhall’s French owner is parachuting in one of its top executives to take charge of the troubled UK car maker just days after it announced a fresh wave of job cuts in Britain.
PSA Group is handing control of the business – which this week cut a further 250 jobs at its Ellesmere Port plant, taking losses there since October to 650 positions – to Stephen Norman, currently head of sales and marketing in the parent business.
His appointment comes a day after Business Secretary Greg Clark met with PSA chief Carlos Tavares in Paris to discuss the company’s UK plans.
France’s PSA bought Vauxhall along with sister company Opel last August from GM in a ?1.9bn deal, sparking fears about Vauxhall’s future.
In October the company said it was cutting 400 jobs from the Ellesmere Port production line in Cheshire where the Astra is built and earlier this week said a further 250 positions would go as the plant moves to a single shift operation.
Vauxhall gets new UK boss days after fresh round of job cuts

Vauxhall builds the Astra at Ellesmere Port in the North West of England
However, Mr Norman refused to be drawn on the future of Ellesmere Port, saying it was too early for him to comment, but added that one of his first jobs would be to “stop the erosion of Vauxhall’s UK sales”.
Official data showed last year Vauxhall suffered a 22.2pc sales fall in the UK, selling 195,137 cars in 2017.
“Vauxhall is an iconic British brand,” said Mr Norman, who was described by industry sources as a “tough” manager. “It’s a brand which speaks to me directly and I learnt to drive in a Vauxhall, my first car was a Vauxhall. What I have to do is work out how to package that to sell it.”
He dismissed suggestions PSA bought the business with intentions to shut the Ellesmere Port, saying that the acquisition included both Vauxhall and Opel showed it saw “intrinsic value” in both marques.
Vauxhall gets new UK boss days after fresh round of job cuts

Stephen Norman will take over Vauxhall's UK and Ireland operation in February

PSA Group
PSA has said Ellesmere Port is “significantly” more expensive to run than other plants in its portfolio, and wants to address these costs before considering future investment there.
Mr Norman reiterated this saying the car industry could not repeat errors of the past. “The days when production pushed demand of 25 years ago are long gone, we are finally producing what the customers want. Supply will follow demand and if Ellesmere Port is productive enough and demand is high enough it will have a role to play.”
British motorists choosing cars because of where they are built plays a “critically important” role, according to Mr Norman, with only style and price coming ahead of it.
PSA – which also owns the Peugeot and Citroen marques – has said sales of the Astra are being hit as motorists lose their appetite for the car in favour of SUVs and smaller vehicles.
Mr Norman, who joined PSA four years ago, will take control next month, making him the Vauxhall's fourth Uk boss in five years. He replaces Rory Harvey, who is leaving at the end of February.   
Union Unite demanded security in the form of investment guarantees for remaining employees at the plant – which had about 1,800 before the job cuts began  or risk part of the UK car industry and its suppliers "withering on the vine".
Len McCluskey, the union's general-secretary, said: “This is an additional blow to a world-class workforce that is one of the most efficient in the industry. PSA must provide investment guarantees on new models for Ellesmere Port as a matter of urgency."
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