At the end of November 2007, engine maker Rolls-Royce employed around 39,500 people in 50 countries: around 23,300 are employed in the UK, 8,300 in North America, 2,300 in Germany, 3,400 in the Nordic countries, 680 in Asia with an additional 2,000 working in joint ventures, and about 1,500 in the rest of the world. One of their managerial foci is the metric of sales per employee, and this has underpinned their approach in a number of areas, including investments in process controls and IT systems.
The firm is now negotiating with its employees and their unions with the aim of reducing 2,300 staff and management positions (about 5.8% of their workforce), focusing on overhead and support functions. The Independent is reporting that most of the job losses are expected to be in Britain, where executives hope to use voluntary buyouts. The firm says that it does not intend to lay off manufacturing employees, though a separate union/political battle is being fought over the proposed closure of the Merseyside, UK plant and relocation of its production to Mount Vernon, OH, USA. Rolls-Royce’s release said that the firm “will continue to recruit graduates, apprentices and those required directly to deliver growth.”
While the firm cites “external headwinds” like increasing raw material costs and the weak US dollar, the reductions are expected to have no net impact on the Group’s 2007 or 2008 performance, once all costs are factored in. The most likely explanation, therefore, appears to be the straightforward one of a corporation creating a leaner support structure and managing to its key metrics like productivity and sales per employee. Rolls Royce release | Reuters report | UPI report.