JCB is halting all production for the rest of this week and the whole of next week at its nine manufacturing plants in Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Wrexham. Shop floor employees affected by the move will be paid in full during this period.
No decision has yet been taken on what happens from the week starting Monday 30th March.
Office staff will continue to work a 39-hour week, with many working from home, in accordance with the government’s social distancing policy.
There are reports that JCB has been asked by government to turn over production to making ventilators to help treat patients suffering from the Covid-19 coronavirus but, according to the company, this is not happening yet and nor is it what has prompted the shut-down.
JCB chief executive Graeme Macdonald said: “These measures are unprecedented in the history of JCB but are absolutely necessary to protect the business. As we continue to deal with the health implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become more challenging to maintain business continuity in this volatile economic climate. JCB is a global exporter and worldwide demand for our products has dropped sharply as customers cancel orders and defer deliveries. This is not just a UK issue, it is worldwide and with countries like France, Spain and Italy going into lock-down, those key markets for construction equipment disappear overnight.
“In light of this fast-changing situation, we need to re-plan our production and, as a result, manufacturing at all UK factories will cease for the rest of this week and all of next week. This will allow us to take stock of the situation, re-plan our order book, prioritise products that are definitely required by customers, and ensure parts and components are reassigned to support the production of these products.”
Anticipating an interruption to the supply of parts and components from China, last month JCB reduced its UK factory hours but returned to normal after a couple of weeks.