Rover tells suppliers to be ready to deal in euros

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Rover, the car giant, warned its 350 biggest suppliers yesterday they would have to be capable of doing business with it in euros by the time the single European currency comes into operation next January.

The message was spelt out at a conference of strategic suppliers by Rover's purchasing director, Jim Robinson. He said that from 1 January 1999 Rover, now owned by BMW of Germany, would be able to handle all supplier relations in euros. This may result in suppliers having to bill Rover in euros.

Rover's annual component bill is pounds 4bn and although all but 15 per cent of its supplies are sourced in Britain, well over half of its total production is now exported, the bulk of it to the continental European countries that will be in the first wave of monetary union.

Mainland Europe now accounts for a third of Rover's total sales of 500,000 a year.

Dr Walter Hasselkus, Rover's chief executive, warned last year that the group might have to reconsider its purchasing arrangements if Britain stayed outside monetary union over the long term.

Other large UK companies are also gearing up for the euro. Marks & Spencer is converting all its tills to take the currency and Siemens, which has a pounds 1bn computer chip plant in the North-east, is asking its 150 biggest UK suppliers to deal in euros.