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Land Rover UK sales tumbling; INDUSTRY: 4x4 maker sees big drop in domestic business.

Byline: By Jon Griffin

LAND Rover was today facing more woes after UK sales for October plunged by more than half, just days after a major round of redundancies was announced.

Figures issued by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show that the Solihull 4x4 maker sold just 1,283 vehicles last month, compared to 3,049 in October 2007.

But there was better news for Jaguar, where sales, buoyed by the new XF model, rose from 1,147 in October 2007 to 1,404 last month.

Land Rover enjoyed the best performance in its 60-year history in 2007, clocking up around 226,000 sales worldwide. But the Lode Lane firm has been badly hit by the 2008 credit squeeze.

Land Rover spokesman Mark Foster said: "Clearly, this is a decline that mirrors the one we saw in September and indicates why our Chief Executive David Smith is calling for a one per cent cut in interest rates.

"We know we have got customers who want vehicles but the availability of credit is sometimes making it very difficult for them to go through with the purchase.

"There is a continuing uncertainty and volatility in the market which is making people hold off from committing themselves to what is a significant purchase.

"There is no doubt that the next 18 months are going to be extremely difficult - this is a global economic downturn."

But Mr Foster said Land Rover was well placed to prosper in overseas markets.

"We export to over 160 countries and we are still seeing growth in markets like China, Brazil, Russia, the Middle East and North Africa," he said.

"Although the UK is our biggest market, you cannot get too obsessed by one month, one market. Around four out of every five Land Rovers built go overseas.

"We want to see a more stable economy and take advantage of the progress we are seeing in overseas markets, where there is opportunity for growth."

The SSMT figures show that SAIC/Nanjing sold 27 Longbridge-built MGs in the UK last month.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Nov 6, 2008
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