Triumph Motorcycles is to lay off 400 employees in response to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 health emergency. Some 240 of them will be from the already much reduced UK workforce at its Hinckley, Leicestershire "Centre of Excellence for Research and Development" as part of 400 job losses around the world.
In a statement the company said that the pandemic had "significantly reduced global demand for large capacity motorcycles". Triumph employs some 2,500 people worldwide, around 1,000 of them in the UK. The company only recently announced that it was to move all remaining volume production from the UK to one of its factories in Thailand, leaving the much reduced UK facility to focus on design, R&D, race engines and the assembly of its programme of factory custom specials.
Triumph Motorcycles' Chief Executive Nick Bloor said: "These are not only challenging times for everyone as individuals, but also for the company. No business could have anticipated the scale of the coronavirus crisis and its economic consequences.
"The pandemic has caused significant damage to the global motorcycle market, and, sadly, we have to respond and react accordingly, both as a responsible employer and as a business that invests for the future.
"These are not easy decisions to make, especially when individuals' livelihoods are affected, however, regrettably the scale of impact of COVID-19 necessitates us to restructure now in order to protect the long-term health and success of the Triumph brand and business.
"Sales in the larger 500 cc plus motorcycle segment in key markets such as France, Italy, Germany, the USA and the UK have fallen by between 40 and 65 percent over the past three months during what would normally be the peak season for sales.
"Although Triumph sales have outperformed this significant decline to some degree, the market is forecast to remain considerably down on pre-COVID-19 levels as a direct result of the economic conditions created by it."
Turnover grew to £529.5m in the year to June 2019, when worldwide production was put at 60,131 bikes - at that stage only some 6 to 7,000 were thought to have been made at the UK factory. Pre-tax profits rose from £9m to £9.5m, while the amount spent developing new models rose from £36m to £43.4m.