Words & pics by Ed King
Workers at the Castle Bromwich Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) plant have expressed a “glimmer of hope” after the shock resignation of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Thierry Bolloré.
An announcement made by the JLR Executive Board, issued to workers and staff on Wednesday 16 November, told the car manufacturing giant boss ‘has today announced his resignation from the company for personal reasons’ and will be leaving on 31 December 2022.
Mr Bolloré further said how he was “immensely proud of what we have achieved at Jaguar Land Rover over the last two years” and that the “company’s transformation and acceleration towards a sustainable, profitable future as a modern luxury business is at great pace.”
It was also announced Adrian Mardell, JLR’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO), would be taking over as interim CEO.
But despite years of uncertainly and U-turns at JLR Castle Bromwich – including a fiercely fought battle to win back a previously agreed 12.2% pay rise – on hearing the news of Mr Bolloré’s resignation, workers at the North Birmingham plant remained optimistic.
One JLR staff member, who wished to remain anonymous, told Erdington Local: “the feeling on the shop floor is… well, this might mean car production at Castle Bromwich can continue. We don’t know, but there’s a glimmer of hope now.”
In February 2021, Mr Bolloré presented his ‘Reimagine’ strategy for JLR – embracing the electric car market and aiming to ‘reinvent the concept of modern luxury’ for the beleaguered British car brand.
But less than two years later and the six pure electric car models outlined in the strategy are nowhere to be seen, despite initial production scheduled for 2024 and a full roll out planned for a year later.
Initiatives that were reportedly announced at JLR included the renovation of old lease vehicles for second hand sale, and the recycling of old car parts – including batteries.
However, at a series of recent ‘townhall’ meetings – where JLR senior leadership teams met with workers in groups of up to 200 – these plans were underwhelmingly presented to staff.
A JLR source continued: “It just wasn’t convincing… it felt they (senior management) were just reading from a script. The buzz word around here now is ‘rethink’.”
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