Tears as Ford's saviour thanks his staff before leaving the driving seat


associate business editor

The man who saved Ford claimed the eyes of his British staff were "glistening" yesterday as he said farewell before retiring – even though he had made hundreds of their colleagues redundant.

Alan Mulally, the car maker's chief executive, is on a whistlestop tour of Europe before he retires in July. Within 90 days of joining Ford in 2006 he in effect mortgaged the company's assets for $23.6bn (£14bn) in what was considered a desperate pitch to banks to help him save the group.

Mr Mulally admitted yesterday that Ford had gone "all in" after he joined from the plane maker Boeing. But those loans were negotiated before the credit crunch, so Ford averted the threat of bankruptcy.

By moving early, Ford did not have to ask for bailout funds, unlike its rivals General Motors and Chrysler. It was back in the black by 2009 for the first time since 2005 and Mr Mulally's cultural changes, which included demanding that senior managers help each other out rather than hide problems, have been widely hailed.

However, the huge restructuring meant operations were overhauled worldwide, including in the UK. Last year, 500 workers took voluntary redundancy or early retirement when a transit van factory in Southampton was closed as work was transferred to Turkey. A tool and stamping operation in Dagenham also shut down.

After visiting staff in Essex, including 3,500 at Ford's flagship European research and development facility in Dunton, Mr Mulally said of British factory closures: "We did the right thing. We now have production of the size [that matches] to the real demand. We're about the right size now – actually, growing."

In January, Ford sold 21,792 cars in the UK, up 11 per cent on the start of 2013, and its market share hit 14.1 per cent, 4.5 per cent ahead of its nearest rival.

"First I said to [the UK staff] thank you, then I said congratulations, then I said thank you again and congratulations," he said. "Eyes were glistening… they ought to feel proud."

However, Mr Mulally warned that there was still "overcapacity in Europe", suggesting that some motor companies will either go out of business or be swallowed by rivals unless they go through their own cuts.

Mr Mulally will be succeeded by Mark Fields, the chief operating officer. Mr Fields impressed Mr Mulally as he was the first executive to identify the areas of his own business unit that were going wrong when Ford was spiralling towards a $12.7bn loss in 2007, the worst its history.

Every Thursday, unit heads from all over the world would attend a video conference and present charts showing how their work was progressing. These were bathed in green, suggesting everything was going well, despite the loss-making forecast.

Mr Mulally said he applauded when Mr Fields showed a red block, indicating a problem. Other executives then realised they could help him fix it. The charts soon "looked like a rainbow", as the group worked out how it had lost so much money and what it should do next.

"That was a defining moment, when I knew we'd be OK," he added. "Ford had become a house of brands, very regionalised. They weren't the best in class… Every vehicle from 2008 was best in class."

He also said that Ford was benefiting from the best-planned management transition in the group's history.

On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

Matt Smith is set to join cast of Jane Austen classic - with a twist

A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Property Underwriter

£70-90,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client a London Market Insurer are seeking a Pro...

Operational Risk Manager - Asset Management

£60,000 - £80,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is an leading Asset Manager based...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week