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Tuesday, 2 July, 2002, 09:44 GMT 10:44 UK
Closure threat to Jensen plant
Jensen S-V8
The firm needs to make more cars to break even
A prestigious car factory could be moved abroad less than a year after it opened on Merseyside.

The 40-strong workforce at the Jensen car plant in Speke, Liverpool, was told not to return to work on Tuesday.

A spokesman for the company said staff had not been made redundant but laid off while a review of the factory is carried out by the new owners, the MacDonald Partnership.

It is possible production of the Jensen 40,000 S-V8 sports car will be transferred to a lower cost country.

An Jensen two-seater
The Jensen name dates back to the 1930s

South Africa is one of the locations under consideration, the spokesman added.

When the plant was opened last year it was hailed as a coup for the effort to regenerate the area around the former airport site.

Now an intensive review of the business is under way.

"No decision will be made until that review is complete, which is likely to take a couple of weeks," the spokesman said.

The firm said the break-even point for the business meant making three or four cars a week, while production is currently two.

The plant at Speke Hall Industrial Estate was built with about 1m of public money including 250,000 from Liverpool City Council.

Birmingham roots

A council spokesman said: "We will be having discussions with the new investors over employment and the terms of the grant awarded to them."

Sarah Raper, commercial director of Speke and Garston Development Corporation, said: "If the firm did move it would be a blow to the economy.

"We would hope that the workforce would find new jobs in the automotive sector in Merseyside."

The original company was founded by the Birmingham-based Jensen brothers in the 1930s.

Prior to the launch of the S-V8 last August, the firm had produced only one car a year for nearly three decades.

An announcement on the firm's future is expected within three weeks.


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17 Aug 01 | Business
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