LONDON -- Aston Martin is cutting jobs at its newly opened SUV factory in Wales. The company will lay off 95 staff and an unspecified number of contract workers.
The 95 job cuts are part of the 500 layoffs Aston announced last year as part of a restructure called Project Horizon aimed at returning the automaker to profitability.
"In order to secure the future of its Gaydon and St Athan manufacturing facilities, Aston Martin continues to execute on actions to improve the cost efficiency," the company said in an emailed statement to Automotive News Europe.
Aston's factory in Gaydon, England, is the automaker's main production facility.
The St Athan plant opened last July to build the DBX, which became the automaker's best-selling model in 2020, with 1,516 wholesales to dealers, according to company figures.
The number of contractors released at the plant will be more than 100, according to a report by the Wales Online news site, citing a local union official.
The cuts affected a "huge chunk of the total workforce," the union official was quoted as saying.
Aston Martin employed 2,342 people in the UK as of the end of 2020, according to its newly published annual report. The company posted an operating loss of 323 million pounds for 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic hit sales.
Aston Martin cut production of its core GT sports cars, built in Gaydon, last year as unsold models piled up at dealers.
The automaker has reduced production lines at its Gaydon plant from two to one to cut costs and help improve profitability, CEO Tobias Moers told Automotive News Europe in a recent interview.
The company is also considering whether to in-source production currently carried out by suppliers, Moers said.
One of Moers' first actions when he arrived at Aston from Mercedes-AMG last year was to slow production at St Athan to improve quality.
The move resulted in a "successful quality-led ramp-up, as is appropriate for our luxury product positioning," Moers was quoted as saying in the annual report. The plant was fully up to speed by September, he said.
Moers told Automotive News Europe that the DBX platform will yield a second model in the future "and possibly a third."
Aston will add a mild-hybrid version of the DBX in the third quarter to sell alongside the V-8 version. The new mild-hybrid engine is expected to be a six-cylinder turbocharged unit supplied by Mercedes' AMG performance division.
The news of the job cuts will be a blow to South Wales, which has suffered a series of disappointments in recent months in its attempt to boost the number of automotive jobs in the former coal mining region.
Ford's Bridgend engine plant close to St Athan shut last year, while petrochemicals giant Ineos backtracked on a plan to build its Grenadier, a Land Rover Defender rival, in Bridgend. Ineos opted instead to buy Daimler's Smart factory in Hambach plant in France to build the off-roader. Daimler will build the next-generation Smart cars in China in a joint venture with Geely.
A plan by start-up Britishvolt to build battery cells just next door to Aston's St Athan plant was switched to the northeast coast of England near Nissan's factory in Sunderland.