Longbridge Crisis: Reverse 'Rip off Britain' Policy Is Only Way to Survive

Article excerpt

A businessman whose livelihood depends on the sale of car parts to Rover and BMW last night said that hundreds of component companies in the Midlands could face closer if Rover is sold.

Mr Russel Luckock, chairman of A E Harris Ltd who make parts for all models of Rover cars, claims the loss of the Longbridge plant could ruin the Midland economy.

A E Harris, based in Northwood Street, Hockley, is one of the biggest car parts manufacturers in the country but could face major financial losses if they lost their deal with Rover.

Mr Luckock said: 'You cannot underestimate the economic importance Rover has for Birmingham, the Midlands and Britain.

'Not only will small component companies suffer at the hands of a sell-off, but ripples of uncertainty would flow throughout the region.

'This has not come as a great surprise to the car parts and suppliers business, but it is still a hard hitting shock that smaller companies could never prepare themselves for.

'Problems started as soon as BMW came in and bought Rover and because of recent problems something had to blow sooner or later.'

Mr Luckock claims that foreign companies like BMW have had a 'rip off Britain' policy that has led to 75 per cent of components being made overseas which has crippled manufacturers in this country.

He also blamed BMW's flawed protocol of making major decisions about Rover in Munich for the confusion that has plagued the BMW Rover deal from the start.

He said: 'BMW should have made the decision to make all their major decisions from over here and that would have solved a lot of unnecessary confusion.

'BMW bosses decided to take a lot of components from overseas which meant that a lot of parts were in limbo as they shipped them over here.

'At that time many component companies in the Midlands suffered and went out of business as a result and this is going to be a second body-blow.

'If they managed to survive that I don't think they are going to survive a closure at Longbridge or another foreign buyer who takes things abroad.'

A E Harris has been supplying engine and body parts to Rover in its various guises since the 1950s and Mr Luckock said component companies depend on big deals.

He explained: 'Over the years, as Britain's car industry has slowly but surely declined, we have had to depend on the big deals to see us through and they have been fewer and fewer.

'A E Harris has been lucky because we have invested heavily in more equipment to do more jobs for more businesses, but the smaller companies who could not expand are very dependent on large businesses like BMW. …