Swift Caravans Plan To Reduce Production Staff Numbers

Cost cutting measures are now in place at Swift
Cost cutting measures are now in place at Swift

Friday, 08, Nov 2019 02:54

By William Coleman

Despite the industry seeing sales success Swift are reducing the headcount as they enter into consultation with staff in a bid to reduce vehicle production and cut costs.

In what comes as surprising news the Cottingham based leisure vehicle manufacturer, who currently has 1,100 employees, have said that Brexit, along with much wider political uncertainty has hit the motorhome and caravan industry quite hard.

Following the NEC show some dealers and manufacturers have reported some very strong sales numbers in the motorhome section, which leads me to believe that the difference in sales between the caravan and motorhome is getting smaller. But some companies are not faring as well.

Swift have said that the introduction of the new VED, Vehicle Excise Duty, which will see a buyers lumped with an additional £2,135 onto the bill of their first motorhome, has led to a slump in sales numbers across the board. This new VED is something that has a lot of people worried, and rightfully so.

Just a few short months back Swift announced that they had an increased turnover that had risen to £287.8m due to their increased sales numbers. Now 6 months on Swift have confirmed that they have entered into consultation with some of their staff as they begin to scale down their production of both caravans and motorhomes.

A spokesman at Swift who spike to Hull Live said: "The UK leisure vehicle sector continues to be a tough trading environment.

"Both the Touring Caravan and Motorhome markets are under pressure with wholesale and retail sales slower on both, influenced by external factors such as Brexit and the ongoing political and economic uncertainty surrounding this.

"There are also additional factors impacting on Motorhome sales such as the introduction of the new Vehicle Excise Duty."

This is actually a bit of a shocker seeing as Swift Group is one of the UK's biggest caravan manufacturers and one of the top selling brands. It makes you wonder how well other manufacturers are doing.

Swift's spokesperson also added added: "As a responsible manufacturer, we actively respond to market changes and the challenges they present and our cost base is under constant review.

"Due to the ongoing turbulent political and economic climate, the Company has continued to face challenges and therefore it is proposing to reduce production volumes of Touring Caravans and Motorhomes."

This past summer Howden MP, David Davis, spoke out about this new price hike following a visit at Swift. So it seems it is not just the leisure industry who are against such a high price jump.

For a very long time now motorhomes have been classed as private/light goods vehicles for excise duty purposes, mainly because they are built using 'commercial goods base vehicle' chassis.

This all changed on September 1st unfortunately following new EU regulations. The new regulations means that motorhomes with a declared CO2 value will now be taxed at the same level as cars.

Leading up to, and following, the new legislation the leisure world have feared what kind of negative impact this could have across the board.

Following the rocky political climate which has caused lots of financial woes and the new duty costs Swift has said it was time to take some staff to consultation.

"As part of the proposal, the Company is considering streamlining the business and we will enter into a consultation process with employees over the proposal," says the consultation.

"The proposed actions are to ensure the Company is as fit as it can be for the challenges ahead.

"Our main priority at this time is to work closely with our employees throughout this period, working openly with integrity and offering guidance and support at every stage.

"The proposed restructure will not have a negative impact on the service we provide. We will ensure that the Company retains the capacity to meet the needs of our customers, now and in the coming months."

Having spoken with a lot of the Swift team before I know that this is a move that they have not taken lightly. It is my hope that this is just a momentary lapse for them and they are able to get things back to the way they were at the height of their success.

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