Page last updated at 14:16 GMT, Friday, 5 December 2008

Business fears over Honda F1 sale

Honda Formula One car
Honda said difficult economic conditions led to its decision to sell

Business leaders in Northamptonshire have warned the impact of Honda's decision to sell its Formula One team could extend beyond 1,000 job losses.

Staff at Honda in Brackley have been warned they face redundancy following the move to put the team up for sale.

The team employs about 800 people in the UK, and another 200 indirectly.

The Institute of Directors said many smaller firms could face job cuts if a buyer was not found, and warned they would feel the impact "acutely".

Honda F1 driver Jenson Button said the decision "was just as much a shock for me as everyone else".

He said it was important to stay positive "as one team because if we're not, who's going to be interested in taking it over".

Ron Lynch, the Institute's regional director for the East Midlands, predicted that if Honda's Formula One staff lost their jobs, others in supporting industries could follow.

He said: "It's not just Honda, it's their suppliers.

Jenson Button told Honda staff to be positive

"Any large company is going to have a supply chain and the supply chain tends to be made up of smaller businesses.

"It's the impact on them that will be felt more acutely."

He added: "It could be anybody from an engineering component manufacturer down to an electrician who services the premises or even the cleaners."

Honda said difficult business conditions had led to the decision to pull out of Formula One racing.

Mr Lynch said the business community throughout the region would be hoping a buyer could be found.

"In the run-up to Christmas it's probably the worst news the people working for Honda could possibly have expected," he said.

Troy Robinson, a co-owner of Northampton Motorsport, which caters mainly for self-funded motorsport competitors, said the impact of the announcement could be felt throughout Northamptonshire.

"It's worrying when such a large player like Honda just bails out overnight.

I would think there are a lot of smaller suppliers who are thinking there's going to be a big impact
Troy Robinson, Northampton Motorsport

"I would think there are a lot of smaller suppliers who are thinking there's going to be a big impact," he said.

Mr Robinson added that Northamptonshire's motor racing industry attracted workers with their own interest in the sport and if that level of involvement began to decline, businesses like his could suffer.

"If these people are feeling the pinch then again it ripples out and people like us start to feel the effect," he said.

Others were more confident Honda's state-of-the-art facility at Brackley would attract a buyer.

Paul Southworth, chairman of Northamptonshire Enterprise, which works to develop the county's economy, said he was "extremely disappointed" by Honda's decision but added that he felt there was "a very strong chance" a buyer could be found.

Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce, said the county was "the home of motorsport in the UK" and the loss of Honda would not change that.

"If the racing team disappears then obviously it would be a blow for the county," he said.

"(But) we do have a lot of other businesses that are based here in that industry."

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