Bentley is to cut up to 1000 jobs under a "voluntary release program" and cannot rule out future compulsory redundancies, the luxury car maker has announced.
The Crewe-based company said significant effects on its short-term financial outlook meant that, with "deepest regret", it had informed its 4200 workers of a program to significantly reduce the size of the organisation.
"Bentley is in the middle of a major change program started in 2018, driving for consistent financial resilience through rapid productivity improvements across the business."
The program led to profits and a record performance in the first quarter of this year, said Bentley, adding: "Although organic growth was the planned solution for the remaining restructure challenge, this was clearly derailed by the impact of the pandemic.
"With this considerable forecast reduction to future revenues, Bentley has hastened plans carrying out a comprehensive review of its cost and investment structure and, as the last resort, as with any organisation, the people costs and structure.
"Steps had already been taken to cut or delay unnecessary spend without impacting future product plans. Recruitment was stopped, contractors were released across all business areas, pay was frozen and up to 66 per cent of colleagues at peak were placed on furlough.
"One further clear conclusion was that an urgent reduction in the workforce was unfortunately required."
Unite said the announcement was "another heavy blow" for the automotive industry after a series of job losses caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
National officer Steve Bush said: "Bentley is a name known around the world for the quality of its vehicles, thanks in large part to the expertise of this highly dedicated and superb workforce.
"To ask 1000 of them to leave the company, albeit on voluntary terms, is heartbreaking for the workforce and their communities. We are determined to support our members during this process to do what we can to mitigate the jobs lost."
Australian Associated Press