ONE of Scotland’s most successful firms has warned of up to 650 job losses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Falkirk-based Alexander Dennis Ltd, the UK’s biggest bus manufacturer, said a significant decline in demand for its vehicles had forced it to start a major restructuring  programme.

It said a formal consultation will begin in the coming weeks, with up to 650 jobs at risk across all functions and at all of ADL facilities in the UK.

ADL also has operations in Yorkshire, Lancashire, Surrey, Essex and Northern Ireland.

The company, which has 2,500 employees, had a turnover of £631m in 2018.

ADL, part of global bus maker NFI Group, said many UK customers had stopped placing orders because of the lockdown, social distancing, and low passenger numbers.

Although ADL has used the UK Government’s furlough scheme and cut salaries, hours, and made other savings, it had not been to cope with “the current economic reality”.

The firm said it was now looking to move to a “leaner, more flexible manufacturing model”.

Colin Robertson, who is moving from his role as ADL Chief Executive to Vice Chair of the NFI board, said: “A few short months ago, we were looking at a record year of sales, reaping the benefits of all our investment in new technology, new products and new markets

“All of this changed with the impact of Covid-19.

“Since March, we have been in constant dialogue with the UK and Scottish Governments to make them aware of the unprecedented crisis facing our industry. 

“We are deeply grateful for the support offered by the UK Government’s Job Retention Scheme, and we are heartened by the Prime Minister’s reiteration earlier this month of the pledge he made in February to bring 4,000 new green buses into service. 

“We continue to call upon both Governments to act now to prevent further job cuts and preserve the UK’s world-leading bus and coach manufacturing industry.”

Paul Davies, ADL President & Managing Director, added: “As the UK’s leading bus builder and the world leader in double deck buses, we aim to continue to play a key role in delivering on Governments’ congestion, decarbonisation and clean air targets. 

“We have the technology, experience, skilled workforce, capacity and commitment to deliver thousands of new green buses.”

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “This news is deeply concerning and any redundancies following from this will be a hammer blow, both to the workforce and their families as well as Scotland’s manufacturing base.

"That’s why no stone should be left unturned to save these jobs.

“Our economy is teetering on the precipice. This is an industry with a bright future, but short term difficulties.

"It is of the utmost importance that the Scottish and UK governments take decisive action to protect jobs.

“Scottish Labour will continue to campaign for a Jobs Guarantee Scheme to provide quality jobs for all, as well as defending existing jobs such as at Alexander Dennis." 

Central Scotland Tory MSP Alison Harris added: "This is really worrying news for workers at Alexander Dennis and their families.

“This is a company that has done some fantastic work and innovation over the years, and put in so much effort to the industry.

“Yet they’ve been floored by Covid-19, despite their best efforts to mitigate that impact.

“It’s essential both the UK and Scottish governments work together to try and save as many of these jobs as possible, and ensure the company can continue its pioneering work in the future while continuing to support jobs across central Scotland.”