Jaguar Land Rover to create 800 new jobs

Jaguar car
Image caption Jaguar Land Rover has seen demand for its cars grow

Jaguar Land Rover has announced the creation of 800 production jobs at its plant in Solihull.

The West Midlands plant already employs 6,000 people producing the Range Rover Discovery and Defender models.

The news came as the firm announced record sales of almost 358,000 cars in 2012, up 30% from the year before.

The car-maker, which is owned by Tata of India, said vehicle sales in China rose 70% to 71,940, overtaking the UK to become its biggest market.

Sales in the UK rose 19% to 68,333 and in the US by 11% to 55,675. The company said it was active in 177 countries in the year.

The company's new Range Rover Evoque model came top, with over 100,000 sales in its first year. Sales of its Jaguar models rose just 6%.

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Media captionChinese consumers 'want British brands with integrity'

The government welcomed news of the jobs in Solihull. Last week Japanese carmaker Honda said it would cut 800 jobs at its Swindon production plant.

Chinese consumers

The Chinese market - where sales of Jaguar Land Rover's vehicles have risen 80% in the past year - has been rising in importance to the company.

JLR plans to increase its dealership network in China by a further 30% in the coming year, according to John Edwards, JLR's global brand director, despite the "intense competition" in that market.

"I think what the Chinese consumers are after are true British brands with real integrity," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme, "and that's where we have a real opportunity."

Jaguar Land Rover sealed a joint venture to make cars with Chinese company Chery Automobile in November.

In December, the firm also said it was considering building cars in Saudi Arabia.

If that goes ahead, it would be the company's second overseas manufacturing plant, after it agreed to build a plant in Shanghai.

Production at the Chinese factory, expected to open in the middle of this decade, would be for the Chinese market only.

'Strength to strength'

Jaguar Land Rover has taken on 8,000 people in the last two years, and now employs 25,000 people around the world.

The firm also plans to build a new engine factory in Wolverhampton.

The latest jobs are being created to deal with the increased demand from China, as well as from the Far East, Russia and the US.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said the new jobs were a "welcome boost" for the UK automotive industry.

"The company's investment of £2bn this year and 8,000 new jobs over the last two years shows how JLR goes from strength to strength," he said.

"With support from the government's regional growth fund, it's a clear demonstration of where the government working in partnership with the private sector can make a real difference to the UK economy."

More than 200 of the 800 new UK jobs to be created are supported by the government's regional growth fund.

They will be taken on one-year contracts to start with and will be converted to full-time workers should market conditions remain strong.

Unite's assistant general secretary Tony Burke said the new jobs were to be welcomed.

"Although the contracts are for one year, we hope that we can convert them into well paid, permanent jobs in the future. The Evoque is a very successful export leader so there is no reason why that can't happen in the future.

"The workforce at Solihull are highly skilled and have made a massive contribution to the success of the company here in the UK."

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