Shake-up heralds more job cuts at Inchcape

Inchcape, the car distributor, yesterday announced a shake-up which could result in 1,000 redundancies. It has also been hit by the turmoil in the Far East
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Inchcape is accelerating the huge shake-up instigated by its new management team lead by the company's chairman, Sir Colin Marshall, and has now turned its attention to its troubled marketing division. The group plans to close many of its underperforming businesses in Asia and will make another substantial round of redundancies less than two years after announcing 2,000 job cuts. It is also considering withdrawing from some of its existing markets.

However, Inchcape moved to quell growing fears that plummeting value of currencies throughout South-east Asia would cause lasting damage to its business.

Philip Cushing, the group's chief executive, said: "Our important markets are Hong Kong and Singapore which have, so far, not been affected."

He added: "Thailand is likely to remain difficult for some time. The combined operating profits of Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, however, represent only 5 per cent of the group's operating profits."

Inchcape lost pounds 7m at its Russian Coca-Cola bottling plant, where Inchcape has been undercut on the black market.

Inchcape announced a fall in headline pre-tax profits to pounds 78.8m (pounds 82.8m) but underlying earnings rose 15 per cent. Profits from the marketing division fell to pounds 15.2m (pounds 17.2m).

Investment column, page 24