Shock news rocks one of Gloucestershire’s biggest companies

Written by: Andrew Merrell | Posted 28 July 2020 9:40

Gloucester Rugby will not be alone among those with a long-standing relationship with car brand Mitsubishi Motors rocked by the shock news of the manufacturers decision to exit the UK. 

The marque has been a key sponsor for the Gloucester club for a number of years and its current chief executive, Lance Bradley, moved from the Cirencester headquartered British base of Mitsubishi only last year. 

Mitsubishi’s name is intrinsically wrapped up in Colt Car Company, the Cotswolds business which started exporting the Japanese vehicles back in 1974 and turned its operations into a company with a turnover surpassing £550 million and employing 234 in Gloucestershire.

Pictured: Colt Car Company's Cirencester head office

This morning, when contacted by The Raikes Journal, Cirencester-based CCC was putting a brave face on developments, which it admitted had also taken it by surprise. 

“We are still digesting the news at the moment,” said Conor Twomey, press and communications officer at the company. 

It was far from doom and gloom, however, with Mr Twomey pointing out that although it spent the end for Mitsubishi here in the UK the network of dealerships would continue to sell the stock here, giving it breathing space into next year at least. 

The Raikes Journal understands there are an estimated 1,700 staff across the dealerships nationwide. 

“Mitsubishi has been part of our business for 40 years, and that is something we are never going to forget,” said Mr Twomey.

Pictured: A blast from the past (2000, to be precise) - Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI Tommi Makinen Special Edition

“But we are an importer and distributer of vehicles. There are opportunities out there. The car market is changing rapidly. 

“The regulatory framework makes it expensive for traditional petrol and diesel to do business in Europe, but there are lots of new electric vehicles manufacturers popping up and a shortage of supply. People want them. It is a good time to be a distributor.”

Mr Bradley, who was managing director of Mitsubishi Motors in the UK, echoed Mr Twomey's optimism: "I’m obviously sad for everyone who’s built Mitsubishi Motors to what it’s become in the UK, because there are a lot of great people in the Cirencester HQ and throughout the dealer network.

"But I do believe there will be future opportunities, and having spoken to people there yesterday and today I know that’s what they’re working on."

Gloucester Rugby will not be the only club affected by Mitsubishi decision.

At the start of the pandemic Mitsubishi was talking up its commitment to English rugby at all levels as its “proud performance partner, and teaming up with England Rugby head coach Eddie Jones (pictured below) to back a series of masterclasses for grass roots coaches.

According to the Nikkei Asian review website on Monday (July 27) Mitsubishi Motors said “it expected a group net loss of 360 billion yen ($3.4 billion) for the year ending March 2021, marking the second straight year of red ink, as sales cratered due to the coronavirus pandemic”. 

“Mitsubishi, which is owned 34 per cent by Nissan Motor, expects sales to drop 35 per cent to 1.48 trillion yen, with volumes projected to fall 25 per cent to 845,000 units. 

“By region, sales volume is projected to fall 19 per cent in Southeast Asia -- the company's biggest market - 21 per cent in Japan, 34 per cent in North America and 47 per cent in Europe. Sales in China are expected to stay flat.” 

For the April-June quarter, the Japanese automaker reported a 57 per cent drop in sales. It is understood the coronavirus pandemic has been a major factor at play.

The Raikes Journal has asked for s statement from Gloucester Rugby.