JCB halts UK production as global demand for machines drops due to coronavirus impact

Workers at the JCB plant in Rochester, Staffordshire, England. Credit: Daniel Lynch

JCB says it is stopping production at all of its United Kingdom manufacturing plants as COVID-19 disruption is resulting in “an unprecedented reduction in global demand.”

JCB is halting production for the rest of this week and all of next week at its nine manufacturing plants in Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Wrexham.  The company says shop floor employees affected by the move will be paid in full during this period.  The shut down does not affect office staff, many of which are working a 39-hour week from home.

The company will make a decision on whether to remain closed on subsequent weeks later on.

“These measures are unprecedented in the history of JCB but are absolutely necessary to protect the business,” says JCB CEO Graeme Macdonald. “As we continue to deal with the health implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become more challenging to maintain business continuity in this volatile economic climate. JCB is a global exporter and worldwide demand for our products has dropped sharply as customers cancel orders and defer deliveries. This is not just a UK issue, it is worldwide and with countries like France, Spain and Italy going into lock-down, those key markets for construction equipment disappear overnight.

The shutdown “will allow us to take stock of the situation, re-plan our order book, prioritize products that are definitely required by customers, and ensure parts and components are reassigned to support the production of these products,”  Macdonald continues.

JCB’s plant in Pudong, near Shanghai, ceased production last month as the impact of the pandemic initially took hold. After several weeks of disruption, the factory is now fully operational again.

There is no immediate word of whether this shutdown will extend to the company’s North American operations.