HOPE appears far from lost for the future of an historic Leamington motor parts manufacturer after its parent company went into administration this week.
Caparo Vehicle Technologies – the direct descendant of Lockheed Hydraulic Brake Co, which became Automotive Products in the 1930s, and which was the town’s largest employer for many years – employs 140 workers at its Tachbrook Road factory.
The Leamington brake manufacturer is an arm of Caparo industries – which has interests in steel, engineering and the production of motor parts – and is one of 16 Caparo businesses in the West Midlands now being run by administrators PwC. The exact number of jobs at threat across the West Midlands remains unclear but has been estimated at 1,700.
But while the steel and engineering sides of the business are struggling, owing to the current cheap steel crisis and strong pound, the motor parts arm is doing well, and The Observer understands there has already been a great deal of interest from possible buyers.
Lead administrator Matthew Hammond said: “Clearly vehicle production in the UK is an actual real success story and has been for a number of years.
“I would hope that given the coverage this is receiving that buyers will come forward for many or some of those businesses – either individually or collectively
Warwick and Leamington MP Chris White spoke directly with the administrators and afterwards was hopeful for the future of Caparo Vehicle Technologies.
“This is a business with a strong heritage and PwC tell me there have already been a number of approaches,” Mr White told The Observer.
“I am confident all is being done, and all options are being looked at.
“At the moment the employees are my number one concern.”
Union chiefs also remain positive, and say many of the sites taken over on Monday remain viable businesses.
PwC say it is business as usual at the moment at all sites, and all employees would be paid as normal.
Caparo Vehicle Technologies – a supplier to Jaguar Land Rover among others – has developed, designed, and manufactured brakes for everything from motorsport to luxury road cars, off roaders to low carbon and electric vehicles.
It can trace its history back to the setting up of the Lockheed Hydraulic Brake Company in 1920.
During the Second World War the factory employed some 10,000 and worked round the clock making components for armaments and aircraft.
From the 1960s imports of cheaper foreign cars hit the firm hard. AP as it was known to townspeople employed around 5,500 people in the mid 1970s, but the number steadily dwindled over the ensuing decades.