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Lotus announces 100 new jobs

Fri, 09 Aug 2013

Lotus is on a recruitment drive - prompting confidence that the iconic British sportscar firm’s future looks brighter than it has for years.

The company has suffered a rollercoaster ride since relaunching in 2010 with a bold promise to build five new sportscars and a supermini. But the architect of that plan, CEO Dany Bahar, was fired by the company's Malaysian owners and the expansion has since been wound down.

After months of uncertainty and cutbacks, now Lotus is showing the first signs of bouncing back. It is recruiting 45 specialist engineers, 40 manufacturing operatives and 18 graduates, following a £100 million investment by its parent company DRB-HICOM to improve engineering, productivity, efficiency and quality.

The new recruits will work on the development of new products at Lotus Engineering, which conducts third-party chassis work for manufacturers around the world. Lotus Engineering is currently working on 120 different projects for other carmakers.

Lotus is also keen to expand into new markets: currently 90% of all Lotus cars are exported. Up to the end of June 2013, Lotus had sold 544 cars, of which 463 went to foreign markets.

Lotus employs 1,100 people in the UK, the majority working out of its Hethel HQ in Norolk. The site remains far from busy, however. It has capacity to build up to 50 cars a week and it has only sold 122 cars in the UK in the first seven months of 2013.

A Lotus spokesman told MSN Cars: “The shareholder has, many times, affirmed its commitment to the future of Lotus and investment into the brand, to the tune of £100 million in the last 12 months in the UK, and at all our sites and facilities around the world including, of course, our headquarters in Hethel, Norfolk.

“We will keep production and engineering here in Norfolk. We are investing in our Lotus Lightweight Structures facility in Worcester and our aluminium anodising facility in Wellingborough. These two high tech facilities anodise and assemble the world class Lotus aluminium chassis for all our cars, but most of our business here is as a supplier to the European motor industry.”

MSN's view? We should welcome the fact that Lotus is expanding again. It’s a major turnaround from the doom-and-gloom headlines of recent times, following Bahar's exit and the implosion of his five-car turnaround plan.

We've been saddened by news of staff cutbacks, high-profile departures and disputes with suppliers. Let's hope Malaysian-based DRB-HICOM, which also owns Proton, will continue to invest in its British gem and realise its full potential.

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By Ian Dickson, senior editor, MSN Cars