Ford's output to be increased

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FORD is increasing production at two of its main UK car and van plants to meet booming demand in the home market.

The Halewood plant on Merseyside, which makes Escorts, is moving from single-shift working to two shifts a day four days a week, while the Transit van plant in Southampton is returning to full five-day production.

These are the first increases in output since Ford began putting its plants on short-time working last year. They follow an 18 per cent increase in Ford's UK sales in the first two months of the year.

Ian MacAllister, Ford chairman, said the move was encouraging but there would be no return to full production until there was a recovery in Continental markets.

Ford made a total of 313,000 cars and car- derived vans in the UK last year and expects to increase production by between 5 and 10 per cent this year.