UK to bear brunt of Lucas cuts

The UK operations of LucasVarity, the car parts and aerospace giant formed recently in a pounds 3.2bn merger, are to bear the brunt of a restructuring programme involving around 500 job losses.

Just two months after the deal was unveiled, Victor Rice, the new chief executive who previously headed Varity, has already completed a review of management structures which will result in a potential cull of a third of senior administrative jobs.

Mr Rice has outlined space for 100 senior managers, compared with the current total of 150. A spokeswoman said existing staff would undergo an "intensive selection process aimed at getting the best fit for the new roles". A further 450 administrative jobs will be cut over the next few months, though final decisions about who will be affected have yet to be taken.

Those who do not fit into the new structure will not necessarily lose their jobs immediately, though Mr Rice has made it clear there are only a limited number of long-term posts available. The cuts are part of a drive to achieve annual cost savings of pounds 65m over the next three years.

The staff reductions, which are likely to have a bigger impact on the Lucas side of the business, shift the focus of the company towards the US. Lucas has 250 head office staff whereas Varity already runs a leaner headquarters operation in the US with just 50 employees.

Lucas employs disproportionately large numbers of staff when compared with the stakes the two companies have in the merger. Lucas investors gained two thirds of the shares in LucasVarity, which starts trading on Friday, while Varity investors got a third of the equity. Yet Lucas currently employs 45,000 people worldwide, against only 10,000 for Varity.

The company yesterday announced its new executive team, with eight former Lucas personnel and six Varity directors including Mr Rice.

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