Renault looks to provide reprieve for Leyland DAF

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RENAULT is to pursue its joint van project with ailing Leyland DAF, providing a temporary reprieve for almost 200 workers at Washwood Heath near Birmingham. However, the French company may move the Excel van project to France or elsewhere in Europe later this year and is expected to seek a new partner in the venture.

Volkswagen is believed to be interested in joining Excel as a replacement for its LT van. A spokesman said: 'It is early stages and we could either fund a replacement ourselves or seek a partner.'

Under an agreement due to be announced within a few days, the 190 employees at Washwood Heath will continue to work for the insolvent firm, but under a service contract with Renault.

It is believed the staff have been offered employment for five months. Some may then be taken on full-time but be required to move to another country. Last week, about 80 Leyland DAF employees working on Excel lost their jobs in the sweeping redundancies announced by the company's receivers, Arthur Andersen.

The receivers were still struggling yesterday to persuade suppliers to the Leyland truck plant to resume deliveries so that production can restart.

Production began on Wednesday at the Birmingham van plant but the receivers are still worried that a supply bottleneck could prevent continued output.

Meanwhile, talks continue for the rescue of New DAF, which is being formed from a slimmed- down version of the Dutch and Belgian parts of the business. Although Leyland DAF is excluded from the new company, Arthur Andersen is to see production and marketing links with the Leyland plant continue. This would make it easier to find a buyer for the truck business.