GEC job losses top 14,500 in year

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The Independent Online
THE ELECTRONICS company GEC shed 14,500 jobs last year as it stepped up its redundancy programme in the face of prolonged recession.

The job losses emerged alongside better-than-expected profits of pounds 829m before tax for the year to 31 March, up from pounds 818m in the previous year. This was after pounds 60m of redundancy costs, up from pounds 40m.

Lord Prior, the chairman, said the trading environment had been 'hostile' and there was no sign of any pickup in the current year.

The shares rose 8p to 233p, helped by an increased dividend, up from 9.25p to 9.6p a share. It was the first increase since 1990.

The company is one of the largest employers in the UK, with a workforce of 148,000.

Lord Prior, a former Conservative Secretary of State for Employment, welcomed 'the new government's positive stance in support of British manufacturing industry.'

This is much more enthusiastic than a year ago, when he said he hoped the Prime Minister's encouraging statements would be put into practice.

But he added: 'The government must play its proper role through ECGD and bilateral overseas aid.' The government recently refused to put extra funds into the Export Credits Guarantee Department.

The company has a joint venture with Alsthom of France, where export insurance is more easily available. David Newlands, the finance director, said GEC would not transfer work to France but the joint venture might carry out more work there.

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