A major automotive supplier to Jaguar Land Rover has warned that it will have to relocate because of the planned HS2 high-speed railway line, putting hundreds of jobs at risk.
International Automotive Components’ (IAC) plant in Coleshill, Birmingham, makes carpets, flooring and noise, vibration and harshness products and employs 800 people. It operates a premium leather cut, sew and wrapping line that supplies JLR and employs 250 workers.
Speaking in front of a select committee of MPs hearing objections to the high-speed railway line, Darryl Roadnight, plant manager at IAC Coleshill, said the factory would be forced to relocate because it would lose a 7,200m2 extension that handles stock and shipments. “We won’t be able to function fully without the extension – it’s full to the brim already – we’d have to move to alternative premises,” he said.
The extension was built after IAC won a “significant chunk” of business from JLR, said Roadnight, and was part of a decision to bring work in-house for profitability reasons.
Roadnight added that uncertainty over the route of HS2 made planning for the future of the Coleshill plant very difficult. He said: “We can’t stop investing because of something we’re not 100% sure is going to happen, so we’re continuing to push to win new business. We’ve
£4 million for new machines and production lines planned.” In 2016 the company is expecting to install another £3 million worth of machinery.
Construction of HS2 is planned to start in 2017, after royal assent is given to the bill that covers it in 2016.
Timothy Mould QC, speaking for HS2, told MPs that the plant extension had been built despite the company knowing that the planned route meant it would eventually have to be demolished, but that HS2 would work with IAC to develop options for the company to either stay or move locally. “The implications of moving the line have to be fully considered. It is very difficult to do. The company is clearly an important employer and valuable to the local economy,” said Mould.
Robert Syms, chair of the HS2 select committee, said it was very important that job losses were minimised.
IAC said: “The facility is part of the localised supply chain and therefore IAC has a vested interest in preserving this operation by changing the route of the planned high-speed train.
“To this end, we are working closely with the HS2 authorities to find an agreeable solution. Since the decision process is still ongoing, IAC will not comment on future plans for Coleshill and its related business.”
IAC also has UK sites in Scunthorpe and Solihull.