It is reported that JLR is searching for a distribution centre in Merseyside in order to further increase production of the Range Rover Evoque at its Halewood plant. Reports suggest that JLR has identified the 426,000 sq/ft former Ethel Austin facility in Knowsley, Liverpool and a 405,000 sq/ft site known as Phoenix near to Vauxhall’s car plant in Ellesmere Port, South Wirral. It is thought that by taking over one of the sites to store components, JLR will be able to free up space at its Halewood plant so facilitating increased production.
The Ethel Austin site is owned by a private investor who is being advised by property agent CBRE. Ethel Austin was founded in 1934 by Ethel Austin in her terraced house in Liverpool. The family sold the firm 10 years ago, but it ran into trouble as the recession struck. Around 62 stores, out of the 276, was bought out of administration by Sue Townsend and renamed as Life & Style. The Phoenix warehouse site is owned by property company High Cross and Jones Lang LaSalle is thought to be advising Highcross.
If JLR secures either of the sites it will lead to a significant number of jobs being created. The company is already on the hunt for 1000 new employees in Merseyside by moving to 24-hour production and 35,000 people are understood to have applied.
JLR, owned by Indian conglomerate Tata, is on course for record pre-tax profits this year of around £1.5bn thanks to demand for the Evoque. JLR made pre–tax profits of £559m in the final three months of 2011 when revenues soared by 41 per cent to £3.75bn.