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23rd May, 2022

GKN staff in Redditch voice fears for the future as redundancies start

Ross Crawford 26th Apr, 2018 Updated: 27th Apr, 2018

STAFF at GKN in Redditch fear the firm has no future in the town.

Some have already been made redundant while others say they’ve been told no job is safe.

One employee said their boss had already gone and they were expected to help new owners Melrose get up to speed with their processes, without any guarantee of a job at the end of it.

This is despite Melrose announcing at the time of the hostile takeover that ‘GKN is entering very good hands’.

The news comes in the same week that Business Secretary Greg Clark cleared the takeover of the company by Melrose, refusing to block it on national security grounds.

The British automotive and engineering giant, a publicly-owned company and a fixture on the UK’s industrial scene for close to 300 years, became vulnerable after problems with its aeronautics segment in North America in 2017 sparked a profits warning.

This led to a speculative offer in March from Birmingham-based Melrose, which has a history of buying troubled firms, disposing of the unprofitable sections and revamping then selling on the profitable ones.

The GKN board stayed firm, but speculators, hoping for a quick profit, starting buying up shares in the company.

When Melrose upped their offer to £8.1billion and it was put to the vote of shareholders, 52.43 per cent voted in favour of the takeover.

It is estimated that such was the interest from carpetbaggers that 31 per cent shares of those were owned by speculators.

Redditch MP Rachel Maclean has battled hard to ensure Melrose keeps GKN’s headquarters in Redditch, and has extracted a commitment from Melrose not to close the Ipsley Lane facility ‘in the short term’.

She said: “It’s a very difficult situation. I spoke to the GKN board and their view was that the HQ would pretty much go pretty much immediately, however this has not happened, although it’s difficult to know what the future holds.

“This is something that has concerned me greatly and what is happening is deeply to be regretted, but companies must be free to buy and sell and trade and they are part of a multi-national company.”

“A spokesperson from Melrose acknowledged that redundancies will be taking place but insisted they were only talking about ‘small numbers’.

“The consultation process has begun with group employees but there has been no impact on the divisions and we hope some of those from group can be absorbed into the divisions.

“There are no current plans to shut the Redditch site.

“Melrose has met and discussed with the leadership teams of the GKN divisions how it plans to devolve management responsibility and accountability to the divisions themselves and unlock their potential.

“Melrose is confident that many Redditch corporate headquarter employees will find a home inside the new autonomous divisional unit structures or within Melrose itself.

“Non-corporate HQ staff, 90 per cent of whom work outside the UK, will see no immediate change whatsoever. Melrose will work with divisional leaders to put in place a transformation plan for each of those divisions to improve prospects, invest in new products and technology, and develop relationships with customers. These will be rolled out in the coming months.”

Melrose announced during the bid process that it would be looking to improve the businesses before selling them on.

The Melrose model is to buy underperforming firms then improve them through a combination of investment and devolving management responsibility and accountability to the divisions themselves.

The Melrose spokesperson added that they were only able to buy GKN because shareholders had been unhappy with the then management.

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