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Saving Jaguar – Part one

4 weeks ago

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Mel Nichols | Journalist


22 May 2024

Sir John Egan makes no bones about Jaguar’s situation when he arrived at the embattled British manufacturer in April 1980.

‘If I hadn’t turned up the day I did, Jaguar would have shut the next day,’ he says as we sit talking in his study about Jaguar’s darkest days and how he steered it back from oblivion. ‘It was that close.’

Jaguar had been accelerating towards a cliff edge for five years under British Leyland’s disastrous ownership. It was losing £50 million a year (£237m now). Productivity was abominable: in 1979, Jaguar’s 9200 workers made fewer than 15,000 cars, just 1.6 cars per head – barely break-even level. Then came the crippling cost of humongous warranty claims provoked by the cars’ woeful quality.

The bulldozer now seemingly about to send Jaguar to oblivion was a bitter strike that didn’t seem resolvable.

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