Honda confirms plan to close Swindon plant: Local business reaction

February 19, 2019

Swindon business leaders were today united in voicing sympathy for Honda workers and their families affected by the plant closure – but said the town’s vibrant economy meant it would bounce back from such a blow.

The end of car and engine manufacturing at Honda’s 370-acre South Marston site by 2021 with the loss of all 3,500 jobs will be the biggest single industrial closure since Swindon’s historic railworks finally ceased production in the mid-1980s after being wound down for decades. 

That led to the formation of the Great Western Enterprise (GWE) organisation to help redundant rail workers find new jobs and launch new businesses.

The far-sighted move was instrumental in helping the town get over such a devastating blow and avoiding the kind of mass unemployment that hit many other single-industry towns at the time.

GWE later became Business West and today Ian Larrard, director of the Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative at Business West, said that while uncertainty over Brexit “probably hasn’t helped”, it was only one of a number of negative external factors that had “created a perfect storm, making this decision inevitable even if the timing has come as a shock”.

Mr Larrard, pictured, added: “Trump’s tariffs on cars, the level of investment required right now to begin producing electric vehicles by 2022 and an EU/Japan trade deal that will make car production in Japan for the European market a more viable proposition.

“The priority now is to ensure all those who may be made redundant are helped to find work. Business West has provided support packages in the past and we’re ready to do so again when needed.

“On a positive note, the local economy remains robust and there is a strong jobs market, with the private sector looking to help employ not just engineers but the many skilled associates at Honda who may lose their jobs.”

Swindon-based accountancy and law firm Optimum Professional Services CEO Richard Mathews said that while the news was a blow to Swindon it also presented a long-term opportunity.

“There will of course be uncertainty and concern among the Honda employees, and the associated businesses in the area that are suppliers,” he said.

“But hopefully this cloud has a silver lining. Longer term this could be an opportunity for Swindon. Currently, with little unemployment in the area, recruiting skilled professionals is proving difficult for other businesses. Without Honda, employers will have access to a larger pool of potential jobseekers.

“The Honda site itself should prove very attractive for other larger manufacturers, who will move into the town and offer employment.”




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