Agricultural kit demand sends JCB back to work

JCB has announced production lines will be restarting after being shut down since 18 March, primarily to fulfil a demand for agricultural machinery.

The firm said some 400 employees would be returning from its total workforce of 6,500, including at its Loadall division at Rocester in Staffordshire.

It dominates the UK telehandler market, controlling around 50% of total sales.

See also: Video: Guy Martin smashes British tractor speed record in JCB Fastrac

The move follows the reopening of the other main UK-based tractor manufacturer, New Holland, last week and comes despite a 50% slump in tractor sales last month.

JCB chief executive officer Graeme Macdonald said: “Production has resumed at a very low level, mainly to satisfy demand for agricultural machinery.

“Ahead of this restart, an exhaustive review was undertaken to enable us to introduce wide-ranging measures that will best protect our employees.”

These include the issuing of surgical masks and visors, and the closure of canteen facilities and vending machines.

However, it will be standing down its ventilator housing production line, which had been established as part of the government’s plan to ramp up production of the life-saving kit at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis.

Chairman Lord Bamford said: “We have stood ready to help in any way we could in the production of housings for a new type of ventilator and our production lines were in a position to start manufacturing immediately.

“I’m very proud of all the hard work the team has put into this project and as a British company we would do it all again to help at a time of national need.”

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