After cutting 300 jobs in 2010, Volkswagen AG's Spanish subsidiary is ready to make a significant staffing increase, Seat CEO James Muir said.
"We have to start recruiting again," Muir told Automotive News Europe. "By the end of the year, we're going to hire more than 1,000 employees."
Many of the additions to Seat's 13,500-person global work force will be in Spain, where Muir said unemployment stands at 20 percent overall and at 40 percent for people under 30.
The CEO also said is investing heavily in upgrading the brand. "Just this year, we plan to invest more than 300 million euros into our product portfolio. Over the coming four years, that figure will be more than 1 billion euros," Muir said. "That makes us Spain's third-largest investor. And it is all flowing exclusively into research and development."
Muir plans to lead the Spanish subsidiary back to profitability as early as 2013 from a loss of 311 million euros in 2010. Keys to the turnaround are a model offensive that starts next year and maximizing the utilization of the company's sole factory in Martorell, Spain, where output of the Audi Q3 was just added. Said Muir: "My top goal is for Seat to get back in the black, and to do so sustainably and as quickly as possible. We want to achieve profitability the year after next. And we are well on the way. For the first time in many years, we are certain to achieve our target figures."
Added Muir: "Martorell's installed capacity is about 500,000 units. And when the new models are introduced, we will be able to announce our operation at full capacity in the mid-term."
By 2018, Seat wants to more than double sales to 800,000 units. This year, Seat wants to increase its 2010 sales of about 340,000 units by 8 percent to 10 percent.