GKN re-adjusts

GKN has reported steady progress in the first quarter of this year but said that it will continue to re-adjust its operations following uncertainty in end markets.

According to the group, the first quarter was particularly difficult for the automotive businesses, leading to a trading loss of £47m, £42m of which occurred in January and February.

Global light-vehicle production was down 35 per cent compared with 2008 and sales were down around 20 per cent in the same period.

However, from March the group returned to profitability and is hopeful that government incentives will improve vehicles sales in areas such as west Europe and China.

Offsetting difficulties in the automotive sector, the group’s aerospace markets performed in line with expectations, with the Filton acquisition contributing to around £90m in revenues.

Aerospace organic sales grew by four per cent and the division delivered around £34m in trading profit.

Overall group sales for the three months ending 31 March 2009 totalled £1,085m – an eight per cent reduction compared with the first quarter of 2008.

In light of this, GKN announced in February that it would cut 564 staff as part of its restructuring programme.

These plans have since been accelerated with around 1,800 staff leaving during the quarter.

Looking ahead, the group forecasts global light-vehicle production to increase during the second quarter.

However, off-highway markets are expected to remain weak, with agricultural, mining and construction equipment down by between 30 and 40 per cent.