Automotive sector

The impact of the pandemic on the automotive sector exposed in the Unipres and Nifco accounts

The impact of the coronavirus and other problems on the global auto industry has been highlighted in the accounts of two companies in the Northeast which show a significant drop in revenues.

Nissan supplier Unipres, which employs more than 1,000 people on Wearside, saw revenue drop 44% to £ 116.6million last year, resulting in an operating loss of 13.4 million pounds sterling.

Meanwhile, Teesside auto parts maker Nifco reported 2020 revenue of £ 47.5million, up from £ 65.9million a year earlier.

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Both companies have suffered as the global auto industry has been hit by a number of Covid-related lockdowns, after existing Brexit issues and a sharp drop in diesel car sales.

The industry is now facing a severe shortage of chips for auto parts, which has resulted in some of the weakest new car sales in decades.

Unipres’ accounts describe 2020 as a “difficult year” and said its increasing losses were a direct result of the pandemic.

He said his volumes fell 41% and added that the closure of the Honda plant in Swindon left him with Nissan-Renault as the sole customer.

The company’s workforce fell from over 100 to 1,071 during the year.

Jobs were also cut at Eaglescliffe-based Nifco, falling from 80 to just over 500, with the company reporting a “very difficult year.”

Nifco also highlighted the impact of the pandemic and said the industry’s recovery is likely to be slow and could be held back by the shortage of microchips.

But despite these issues and a one-off cost of £ 445,000 related to staff restructuring, the business remained profitable, posting an operating result of £ 2.4m.

Managing Director Jim Casey said: “The entire auto industry has faced significant challenges due to the unprecedented impacts of the global pandemic, resulting in production disruptions for our customers around the world.

Jim Casey, Managing Director of Nifco

“However, throughout the year, we continued to focus on operational excellence, improved efficiency, training and customer support following the implementation of industry-leading covid secure operations. . “

Recent figures have shown that the number of cars built in the UK in August is down 27% from a year ago.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said the figures were “extremely worrying” and added that “automakers and their suppliers are struggling to keep production lines running with constraints expected to continue through 2022 and maybe beyond “.